Whales aren’t just awesome—and whales are literally awesome—they play a vital role in the bigger picture and have a huge impact on the environment and ecosystem.
Whales are key contributors to ecosystem wellbeing
Whales play a significant role in the health of our environment and understanding of marine mammals, say WhaleFacts.org. Furthermore, they support growing economies that rely on whale watching and spectator activities by bringing in capital through tourism.
Although whales are well received and loved today, in the past, whales played an important (albeit sad and unfortunate) role in the global economic system. Whale parts and oil were sold and used for many different things, including soap, margarine, corset material, and transmission oil additives.
During the whaling era, many species were slaughtered, causing many of them to become endangered and contributing to all sorts of environmental changes that have affected the earth’s ecosystem, from increased levels of carbon dioxide to global warming (which is affecting our polar ice caps) and changes in the feeding habits of many aquatic lifeforms due to a destabilised food chain.
Today, however, commercial whaling activities are illegal, and those caught hunting whales may face steep fines and jail time. While there are still groups that continue to hunt these marine mammals, the number of participating commercial whalers is continuing to decline. The prohibition of commercial whaling has allowed certain species to begin to repopulate their numbers and grow.
Here are 9 facts—some of the surprising—about how awesome whales are, and the significant role they play in our planet’s ecosystem.
1. Whales are the largest animals in the world! Most experts agree that the blue whale is the largest animal that has ever lived on Earth… they even say its the loudest. The dwarf sperm whale is only 8 feet long and is the smallest whale. The average whale can be up to 105 feet long. Source: Unsplash/Max Lissenden
How protecting whales could be our best defence against climate change.
A team of economists at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) wanted to convey to the public just how important whales are, so they put it in terms we could all understand: money. New analysis puts a price tag on exactly how much whales are worth to us, and why we should care about the world’s whale population. It was found that whales absorb large amounts of carbon in their bodies. During the lifetime of the average whale, which is 60 years, it will sequester 33 tons of CO2. In comparison, a tree absorbs up to 48 pounds of CO2 each year. To discover how much a whale is worth, click here.
Coordinating the economics of whale protection must rise to the top of the global community’s climate agenda. Since the role of whales is irreplaceable in mitigating and building resilience to climate change, their survival should be integrated into the objectives of the 190 countries that in 2015 signed the Paris Agreement for combating climate risk. Pictured: killer whales, also cetaceans, come up for air. Source: Unsplash/Bryan Goff
5 ORGANISATIONS YOU CAN SUPPORT TO HELP SAVE AND PROTECT WHALES
If ocean conservation and helping whales is your issue of choice, there are lots of wonderful organisations dedicated to saving the whales that you can support to help make a difference. Check out the following selection of groups that are doing great work for our marine mammal friends, and could use your support.