Whales as climate sinks

National Geographic reports:

The world’s largest whales are more than mere evolutionary marvels. By sequestering carbon in the ocean, they can help humanity fight climate change—an ecosystem service that may be worth millions of dollars per whale, according to a new analysis by economists with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

How much carbon can a whale sequester? According to a study published in 2010, eight types of Baleen whales collectively sink 30,000 tons of carbon into the deep ocean as their carcasses sink. There are about 1.3 million great whales in Earth’s oceans today. If we could restore them to their pre-commercial whaling numbers—estimated at between 4 and 5 million— the economists’ calculations show that great whales could capture about 1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year.

That’s more than the annual carbon emissions of Brazil.

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