How whales change climate

[USA] When whales were at their historic populations, before their numbers were reduced, it seems that whales might have been responsible for removing tens of millions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year. Whales change the climate. The return of the great whales, if they are allowed to recover, could be seen as a benign form of geo-engineering. It could undo some of the damage we have done, both to the living systems of the sea, and to the atmosphere. If you’re interested in seeing these beautiful creatures in person san diego whale watching do a great job of providing a once in a life time tour, my friend tells me.

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  • Editor: Steve Agnos
  • Producer: Chris Agnos
  • Narration: George Monbiot
  • For more from George Monbiot, visit and for more on “rewilding” visit and/or check out George Monbiot’s book Feral: rewilding the land, the sea and human life:
  • Music Credits: Cylinder 2 – Chris Zabriskie (
  • Dramatic Film Strings (Cinematic Movie Soundtrack) – Ramazan Yuksel (
  • Film Credits: The majority of footage found in this film was generously donated courtesy of Peter Schneider of (

Other sources:

  • Humpback Whales Startle Kayakers – Discovery (
  • Biggest Teahupoo Ever – leounn (
  • Nature: Fellowship of the Whales – PBS (
  • Coral Reef Adventure – mobilmsm (
  • Humpback whales’ attempt to stop killer whale attack – BBC (
  • Humpback Whales – Bubble Net Feeding – BBC (
  • Bait Ball Feast – Nature’s Great Events – BBC (
  • Become a Direct Action Crew Member – Sea Shepard (

Academic Sources:

  • Stephen Nicol et al, 2010. Southern Ocean iron fertilization by baleen whales and Antarctic krill. Fish and Fisheries, vol 11, pp 203–209.
  • Kakani Katija and John O. Dabiri, 2009. A viscosity-enhanced mechanism for biogenic ocean mixing. Nature, Vol. 460, pp 624-627. doi:10.1038/nature08207
  • Joe Roman and James J. McCarthy, 2010) The Whale Pump: Marine Mammals Enhance Primary Productivity in a Coastal Basin. PLoS ONE vol 5 no 10, pp 1-8. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0013255
  • Daniel G. Boyce, Marlon R. Lewis and Boris Worm, 2010. Global phytoplankton decline over the past century. Nature, Vol. 466, pp591-596. doi:10.1038/nature09268
  • Steve Nichol, 12th July 2011. Vital Giants: why living seas need whales. New Scientist, No.2820.
  • Trish J. Lavery et al, 2010. Iron defecation by sperm whales stimulates carbon export in the Southern Ocean. Proceedings of the Royal Society: B. Vol 277, pp 3527-3531.
    doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0863
  • James A. Estes, et al, 2011. Trophic Downgrading of Planet Earth. Science, Vol 333, pp 301-306. doi: 10.1126/science.1205106


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