HomeNewsCan Humpbacks Return the Favor? From ‘Save the Whales’ Success to Humanity’s Salvation

Can Humpbacks Return the Favor? From ‘Save the Whales’ Success to Humanity’s Salvation


The unparalleled movement to ‘Save the Whales’ in the 20th century reflected the collective fighting spirit of humanity, standing up for the defenseless and preservation of bio-diversity. The campaign was indeed a shining success, and today we ask ourselves a seemingly paradoxical question, can humpbacks save us from ourselves?

The irony lies in the fact that it was our destructive tendencies that put whales in danger in the first place. Over-fishing, hunting for their blubber, and colony exploitation drastically reduced their numbers, pushing them to the brink of extinction. The ‘Save the Whales’ slogan was a desperate call to action to protect these marine mammals, and it found resounding success.

Now, as we stand in the 21st century dealing with a new kind of crisis altogether, humpback whales have emerged as unlikely saviors. The dramatic loss in bio-diversity and the impacts of climate change are issues that we’ve passed onto ourselves and the role of humpback whales in tackling them is intriguing.

Humpback whales, often referred to as the ‘engineers of the sea’, have an extraordinary role in ocean ecosystems. They stimulate the growth of phytoplankton by bringing nutrients from the deep sea to the surface. Remarkably, these tiny phytoplankton contribute to carbon sequestration, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It has been estimated that the biogenic carbon captured by whales is equivalent to hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest.

Today, climate change looms as a significant existential threat, and the carbon sequestration ability of whales is being leveraged as a partial solution. In financial terms, the economic benefit of every great whale, considering their carbon sequestration prowess, fisheries enhancement, and tourism possibilities, runs into thousands of dollars over their lifetime.

Moreover, being an apex predator, humpbacks balance the marine food chain by limiting the number of certain species, indirectly protecting smaller aquatic life and coral reefs. This biological balance is vital for mitigating the effects of overfishing and preserving sea flora.

Reconsidering our relationship with these magnificent creatures from a utilitarian perspective, their preservation is not just a moral duty but also a strategic, economical, and environmental necessity. An increase in the whale population can amplify their carbon-capturing abilities, and this boost could potentially contribute to global strategies aimed at offsetting carbon emissions.

While the spotlight shines on humpbacks as ecological saviors, it is important to remember that they are just one piece of the larger environmental puzzle. The notion that humpback whales can ‘save us from ourselves’ does not absolve us of responsibility for combating climate change and preserving bio-diversity. It is merely a profound reminder that every species contributes to the balance of ecosystems and our well-being in a way we are only now beginning to fully appreciate.

‘Save the Whales’ was a battle cry against preventing species extinction and regaining control over our destructive tendencies. Today, those same whales, especially humpbacks, are being looked upon as potential allies in our battle against climate change. Can they save us from ourselves? Perhaps. But it will also require a commitment to see our environmental and interspecies responsibilities in a new light.

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