One Cool Thing: Whale Poop+Phytoplankton=Oxygen

As IFAW recently explained, no matter where you live—the valleys of the Himalayas, the Melbourne coastline, or the landlocked prairies of Kentucky—more than 50% of the air you breathe is produced by the ocean. Yet the ocean makes much of that oxygen thanks to little marine organisms called phytoplankton and the marvels of whale poop.

According to NOAA, one particular species, Prochlorococcus, is the smallest photosynthetic organism on Earth produces up to 20% of the oxygen in our entire biosphere–a higher percentage than all of the tropical rainforests on land combined.

Whales dive deep into the ocean to feed, and swim back up to the surface to breathe and excrete waste full of nutrients. When whales migrate to feeding and breeding grounds, they form “the great whale conveyor belt”a system that keeps key nutrients moving throughout the sea that phytoplankton then absorb. 

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