Sperm whales have been shown to increase the levels of primary production and carbon export to the deep ocean by depositing iron rich feces into surface waters. The feces causes phytoplankton to grow and take up more carbon from the atmosphere. When the phytoplankton dies, it sinks to the deep ocean and takes the atmospheric carbon with it. The sperm whales result in removing 200,000 tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.

The blue whale is a marine mammal belonging to the baleen whales (Mysticeti). At up to 30 meters in length and with a maximum recorded weight of 173 tons, it is the largest extant animal and is the heaviest known to have existed. Long and slender, the blue whale’s body can be various shades of bluish grey dorsally and somewhat lighter underneath. There are at least three distinct subspecies: As with other baleen whales, its diet consists almost exclusively of small crustaceans known as krill. Blue whales were abundant in nearly all the oceans on Earth until the beginning of the twentieth century. For over a century, they were hunted almost to extinction by whalers until protected by the international community in 1966.

A 2002 report estimated there were 5,000 to 12,000 blue whales worldwide, in at least five groups. The IUCN estimates that there are probably between 10,000 and 25,000 blue whales worldwide today. Before whaling, the largest population was in the Antarctic, numbering approximately 239,000.

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