Forests of the Ocean

Weighing their impact on climate change, scientists say that whale populations in the ocean should be preserved as a carbon sink just like forests on dry land.

Weighing their impact on climate change, scientists say that whale populations in the ocean should be preserved as a carbon sink just like forests on dry land. "A century of whaling may have released more than 100 million tonnes - or a large forest's worth - of carbon into the atmosphere, scientists say. Whales store carbon within their huge bodies and when they are killed, much of this carbon can be released. US scientists revealed their estimate of carbon released by whaling at a major ocean sciences meeting in the US. Dr Andrew Pershing from the University of Maine described whales as the 'forests of the ocean'.


Dr Pershing and his colleagues from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute calculated the annual carbon-storing capacity of whales as they grew. 'Whales, like any animal or plant on the planet, are made out of a lot of carbon,' he said. 'And when you kill and remove a whale from the ocean, that's removing carbon from this storage system and possibly sending it into the atmosphere.' He pointed out that, particularly in the early days of whaling, the animals were a source of lamp oil, which was burned, releasing the carbon directly into the air. 'And this marine system is unique because when whales die [naturally], their bodies sink, so they take that carbon down to the bottom of the ocean. If they die where it's deep enough, it will be [stored] out of the atmosphere perhaps for hundreds of years.'"

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Meet the Bajau sea nomads — they can reportedly hold their breath for 13 minutes

The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.

Wikimedia Commons
Culture & Religion
  • The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
  • Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
  • Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists create a "lifelike" material that has metabolism and can self-reproduce

An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
Keep reading Show less