"Our results say that if we restore whale populations to pre-whaling levels seen at the beginning of the 20th century, we’ll restore a huge amount of lost function to ocean ecosystems," said Nicholas Pyenson, co-author and curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum. "It may take a few decades to see the benefit, but it’s the clearest read yet about the massive role of large whales on our planet."
"Further analysis supports the need for whales as the amount of krill in places like the Southern Ocean have significantly dropped since the early 1900s. The amount of nutrients in poop also has dropped since then. All wrapped up together, more whales means more krill, and more krill means more ocean-benefiting poop."
"Our results suggest the contribution of whales to global productivity and carbon removal was probably on par with the forest ecosystems of entire continents, in terms of scale," Pyenson said. "Helping whales recover could restore lost ecosystem functioning and provide a natural climate solution."
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