World Whale Day is held annually on February 19th to celebrate these majestic aquatic mammals—among the largest and longest-living creatures on the planet. But it’s also a day for raising awareness to the important and under-recognized role that whales play in mitigating climate change.
Not only do whales naturally store carbon in their biomass, they also contribute to the growth of phytoplankton through byproducts like their feces and placentas. By some estimates, phytoplankton suck up 37 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year—a massive 40% of total global production.
Given whales’ incredible carbon-sequestering potential, the IMF issued a report in 2019 to help governments and businesses translate this potential into a dollar amount. The report calculates the carbon service of a single whale to be worth more than two million US dollars.
In this TED talk, one of the report's key authors explains the importance of taking an ‘earth-tech approach to carbon sequestration’ by simply investing in protecting the world's whale population. Compared to untested and potentially harmful high-tech solutions, a whale-based carbon market provides a win-win solution. For the climate, for whales themselves, and for the entire marine ecosystem.