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Iconic Animals & Conservation: SeaLegacy Meets The Mighty Blue Whale

When the SeaLegacy crew is looking to create conservation content to bring attention to a certain issue, they’re always looking for that one iconic species to really draw people into the conversation. For their work in the Sea of Cortez, that iconic animal also happens to be the largest animal to have ever lived on this planet – the mighty blue whale. In the latest episode of SeaLegacy | The Voyage, Sony Artisans and SeaLegacy co-founders Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier are joined by several scientists to explore how this iconic animal is important to our entire ecosystem.

In the latest episode of SeaLegacy | The Voyage, Sony Artisan & SeaLegacy co-founder Paul Nicklen is joined by several scientists to explore how this iconic animal is important to our entire ecosystem.

“Because of their size, blue whales by far play the biggest role in protecting and preserving the entire planetary ecosystem,” explains Delphi Waters, co-founder and co-director for Whale Guardians, who joins the SeaLegacy crew in the episode. “The ocean produces over half of the oxygen we breathe. A major reason why the ocean can do this is because of something called the whale pump. Whales produce nutrient-rich feces, which feeds phytoplankton, which feeds krill, which in turn the whales eat the krill. So basically whales are the original farmers of the sea.”

She continues, “Phytoplankton pulls a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere, so that is the part that helps sustain the environment and our whole atmosphere and everybody’s ability to live on Earth. So the whale’s with this poop loop are basically creating a carbon sink.”

Michael Fishbach, who is the founder and executive director of the Great Whale Conservancy, also joins the SeaLegacy crew and explains that his great area of interest with the blue whale is the greatest threat that they face today. “There are many threats that they face, but the greatest one is ship strikes,” he explains. “This particular threat of ship strikes hitting blue whales is avoidable, and this is the key to this species rebounding, recovering for the greatest iconic largest animal that’s ever lived on the planet who helps enrich our oceans and fulfill our dreams to actually come back toward its pre-whaling numbers.”

Why is this so important? Fishbach explains how their numbers have dropped from 350,000-400,000 pre-whaling to now about 10,000. “They’re really on the edge as a species,” he says.

The biosphere reserve they are working to create is critical for the safety of the blue whales in Mexico. It’s a very important area because it’s such a hot spot for whale diversity and abundance. “To think that many of the blue whales that go off into the Pacific Ocean are born here in the Sea of Cortez,” says Paul Nicklen. “To see all of these mothers and their calves, these young calves who are gaining 200 pounds of weight a day as they drink their mother’s incredibly rich milk that she’s able to create because of the abundance of krill that exists here. That’s the animal that’s going to draw people into this conversation.”

Nicklen continues, “To have seen dozens and dozens of blue whales, to work with scientists like Michael Fishbach and Delphi Waters and to learn from them, it’s just a wonderful opportunity to be value added to this journey. And then you come to Mexico and you realize you realize that by protecting this, you’re starting to create that corridor where these animals can recover and ultimately thrive and reach back toward historic numbers.”

Stay tuned to the Alpha Universe YouTube Channel to follow SeaLegacy’s journey.

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