Wednesday, 5 September 2007
The Oxygen Farmers
During the age prior to Antarctic whaling, the abundance of krill, the small shrimp-like creatures who were the whales major food source, was immense. Reports from the earliest sailors to venture far south repeatedly spoke of "vast pastures", of "pea-soup concentrations of the Euphausia (krill) as far as the eye can see", etc.
Krill feeds upon phytoplankton, the tiny ocean plants that are the most productive source of oxygen for our planet. Does this surprise you? Many people believe that the rainforests are the major source of oxygen. This is true for land-based sources, but we must recall that the oceans cover over two-thirds of our planet and the phytoplankton bloom each year is beyond our ability to envision. Literally billions of tons of phytoplankton grows into vast floating mats of plantlife, creating huge rising clouds of oxygen. Krill eat the phytoplankton, and baleen whales eat the krill.
Normal sense tells us that when the whales were removed from the southern seas in the world's most concentrated slaughter ever known, over a period of about one hundred years, that the food they fed upon would increase dramatically. Yet, this does not seem to be the case.
In a paper recently published in "Evolutionary Ecology Research", Volume 9: pages 651–662, written by Jay Willis of the University of Tasmania (Australia), the conclusion states that, paradoxically, the krill abundance has dropped, probably caused by a lifestyle change due to the absence of feeding pressure upon them.
With less krill, the phytoplankton blooms have become unstable, leading to some years of huge over-production of bio-mass, which then releases hydrogen sulfide and methane into the atmosphere as it rots, uneaten. These two gases are among the worst of the Greenhouse Gases, which are culprits in Climate Change.
For the ancient peoples of the world, Whales were known as "Keepers of the Breath", and "The maker of the air". Now we know that the wisdom of our ancestors was more accurate than we imagined. The killing of whales is a crime against all life, as well as an insensitive and cruel anachronism, left over from less enlightened times.
Do you hear, Japan, Norway, Iceland, N. Korea, and the whaling pirates? Please, for our mutual future, stop all whaling. It is a matter of life and breath.