The power of poop: A whale story

Nicols’ team analyzed 27 fecal samples from four species of baleen whales, . “He found that on average whale faeces had 10 million times as much iron as Antarctic seawater.” Basically, that’s iron concentrate. And strategically emitted – which would have to be up near the ocean surface, where the sun shines — that extra iron would create blooms of phytoplankton, which would then be eaten by krill, leading to a boost in the krill population, leading to … yes … bigger whale dinners!

And this led Smetacek to think you could start with an enormous population of plankton, a few whales and a few krill, and slowly but surely the whales will multiply, pooping more iron into the ocean to produce more krill, which produces more whales, then more krill, then more whales, then more krill, until you could support an ocean teaming with whales.