Ralph Chami told this in his recent Ted Talk.
In 2017 I confided to a dear friend of mine that my lifelong wish was to see blue whales. Before I knew it I found myself with a bunch of researchers in the sea of Cortez studying the blue whales. We used to be in a boat 25 feet long.
Now you have to understand at that point in time I knew nothing about blue whales or whales in general.
I’m just a financial economist. But I learned something from them which was really incredible. It was already known in science that whales capture so much carbon in their body and indirectly. And that’s of course very important for us because we are all facing climate calamity and we are all talking about how to grab carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Well, it turns out that the whales grab so much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by the way they eat and they poop.
So how does the whale system work?
Well, it starts in the oceans. The various microscopic organisms are called phytoplankton. That phytoplankton does something really incredible. They grab so much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and they return oxygen to all of us.
Now, how much carbon dioxide do they crab from the atmosphere? About 37 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Truly the lungs of the planet are in the ocean.
Now if you want to visualize what 37 gigatons mean that’s the equivalent of the carbon that is grabbed by four Amazon forests per year.
That’s how much is being sucked in by these photosynthetic organisms.
Now, larger creatures called krill love to eat phytoplankton directly or indirectly.
And the whales love to feed on the krill.
They feed so much on the krill that they grow bigger and bigger and they store carbon in their body.
How much carbon do they store in their body?
Roughly about 7 to 9 tons of carbon on their body.
If you want to convert that to carbon dioxide that’s about 33 tons of carbon dioxide being kept out of the atmosphere on the body of a single whale.
If you want to visualize that that’s the work of 1,500 trees on the body of a single whale.
But those guys because they eat a lot, what do you do next? You poop a lot.
Their poop turns out to be incredibly important because it fertilizes the phyto
So you have this wonderful cycle, the whale fits on the krill, the krill feeds on the Phyto and the Phyto eats the poop of the whales to get more active.
And when the Phyto gets more active it grabs more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
So just imagine: the whales capture Carbone on their body.
Unfortunately, at some point, they die and they are so heavy, that they facing to the bottom of the ocean.
And anything below a thousand meters is sequestered almost forever.
And through their poop, they also fertilize Phyto making it even more active grabbing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
This is the first part of his talk, the whole talk is here: