Why are whales important to our ecosystem?

Whales are known for being the largest animals on the planet, as well as quite intelligent. Plus, they’re rather majestic to watch—which is why whale watching is such a popular activity for anyone on the coast! But there’s more to whales than beauty and intrigue. They’re also critical to our ecosystem. Take a look at some of the main reasons why.

Whales can regulate the ecosystem by eating

That’s right; by simply eating, whales are helping the ecosystem! That’s because they eat such large amounts of food that if they suddenly stopped, certain animal species would begin to overpopulate. In turn, those animals would eat more of their prey and possibly cause damage to the ocean since they’re suddenly present in such large numbers. So whales are necessary just to regulate the food chain in the ocean. For instance, blue whales eat about 40 million krill every day. Think about the vast amount of krill there would be in the ocean if whales weren’t around to consume them anymore! As a result, the food consumed by krill—such as phytoplankton and algae—would suddenly start dwindling in population. And we have no idea what that would do to the ocean in the long run.

Photo: Getty Images

Whale waste can reduce carbon in the atmosphere

Another amazing way that whales help the planet is through their feces, which offsets carbon in the air. This is because the nutrients in whale excrement increase the growth of phytoplankton, which pulls carbon from the atmosphere. As a result, people and animals alike have better quality air to breathe. Additionally, when phytoplanktons grow, other species in the ocean—including a lot of fish—survive, since they eat it. This helps the food chain in the ocean.

Whale watching and the economy

One of the favorite things tourists often do on vacation could also be helping the world. That’s because the whale watching business is big right now, and this is especially helpful in developing countries. After all, some coastal areas are always looking for more ways to bring in money, and the ability to offer whale-watching cruises is a big one. In fact, people all around the world spend billions of dollars overall trying to get a glimpse of whales. When they spend money on this activity, they not only help locals make money, but they also bring more people to that destination in general. This makes it easier for those areas to continue earning money by serving tourists in some capacity. And the best part is that since whales can make people a lot of money in this way, that adds an extra incentive for organizations to study them more and help save them—which raises more money to assist with efforts to help the whales.

The consequences of fewer whales in the wild

As you can see, there are lots of benefits of having plenty of whales in the ocean. They help the ecosystem and even the economy in numerous ways. If you’re still not sure, consider what has happened when there were no protections in place for whales. In the past, people would kill whales to make clothes, soap, oil, and more. When this was happening—and too many whales were dying off—the planet experienced warmer temperatures and the glaciers began to melt. There was even a sharp decrease in certain species of ocean-dwelling creatures. But once we saw that whales were becoming endangered and we put protections in place for them, these issues started to subtly decrease, showing that whales affect the ecosystem more than many might have thought!

Photo: Getty Images

If you want to learn more about whales and even help save them, you can reach out to an organization that focuses on saving this magnificent creature. Some examples include Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Pacific Whale Foundation. If you want to get a little closer to whales, look for a whale watching tour that is led by a conservation group, or an aquarium that only takes in rescues. And as you admire these gentle giants, keep in mind how much of a positive impact they have on the ecosystem!

More about Moran Shimony

“A wannabe author who can’t get enough of British TV shows and is not above begging for coffee. Would be a great millionaire if given the chance.”