Why Whaling May Worsen Warming

Whales store carbon in their bones, scientists say
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2010 5:12 AM CST
Why Whaling May Worsen Warming
Blue whales store carbon in their bones.   (AP Photo/ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

A hundred years of whaling has released about a forest's worth of carbon into the atmosphere, researchers say. Whales serve as "forests of the ocean" by storing carbon in their bones and releasing it when they die. "When you kill and remove a whale from the ocean, that's removing carbon from this storage system," one scientist tells the BBC. If a whale dies deep in the ocean, the carbon is stored for years.

The team calculated that the total amount of carbon wasted in a century of whaling was about the same as driving 128,000 Humvees continuously for 100 years. Leaving large groups of whales to grow, they say, could "sequester" gas in amounts comparable to some reforestation schemes. In other words, whales, and other large animals, could work like carbon credits. (More whales stories.)

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