Whale Pump Research Paper

Better Essays
The Whale Pump in Review
McCarthy (2010) conducted an experiment to determine the effects of marine mammals on the N cycle in the Gulf of Maine. For a long time it was thought marine mammal feces were quickly lost to deep waters due to sinking of the heavy fecal matter but it has been found that marine mammal feces tend to disperse within the euphotic zone instead. These nutrients excreted by marine mammals are concentrated in the surface waters via fecal plumes and greatly contribute to the recycling of nutrients in the euphoric zone, especially nitrogen which is often the limiting nutrient. Feces are often excreted in surface waters by marine mammals due to their dependence on air. They are unlikely to dive deeply unless they are hunting and otherwise tend to stay near the surface. This nutrient cycling by marine mammals is known as the whale pump and can be thought of as an opposite-direction biological pump, which removes nutrients from the euphotic zone via sinking nutrients.
It has been suggested that mammal fecal plumes are analogous to upwelling in terms of nutrient cycling. It is important to note that tough this process is termed the “whale pump” it is not limited to whales but includes all marine mammals and sea birds. The whale pump allows for an increase in the primary productivity in
…show more content…
These organisms provide nutrients for other organisms, mainly zooplankton such as krill and copepods. The zooplankton, in turn, provide nutrients for other low-trophic-level organisms, such as fish and baleen whales. This chain is thought to have two main effects on animal aggregations: (1) the fecal plumes are thought to attract large numbers of zooplankton which, in turn, attract large numbers of higher level organisms and (2) this aggregation of prey animals are thought to reinforce aggregating behavior and cooperative foraging in
Get Access