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Engineering Eco-Systems

Asha de Vos Keynotes

Keynotes by Asha de Vos express her deep love for marine mammals. A marine biologist who graduated...

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Asha de Vos' Whale Conservation Talk Speaks to the Health of Humanity

— January 15, 2015 — Keynote Trends
Asha de Vos references the 'Save the Whales' movement of the 1970s in her whale conservation talk. While the movement was instrumental in stopping commercial whaling (resulting in a ban in the 1980s), the number of whales in our waters today remains low because of a wide range of human threats. Vos suggests that we "save the whales" once again, so to speak, but this time, we need to change our conservation message so that people understand the value whale's provide to our ecosystem, as well as human society.

Vos describes whales' as "ecosystem engineers," helping to maintain the health and stability of our ocean's in two major ways. The first way is whale feces. As whale's ascend to the surface of the ocean, they release fecal plumes containing essential nutrients for phytoplankton, the base of all marine food chains. Secondly, whale's migrate vast distances, transporting these essential nutrients to areas of the ocean where it does not naturally occur.

Whales are also important after death: their carcasses provide a source of food for hundreds of different species as they sink to the bottom of the ocean. More importantly, whales transport 190,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere to the ocean, delaying global warming. In effect, whales are critical to the health of our oceans, and so, in our efforts to prevent their death and injury from human intervention in oceans, we must make their importance known.
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