Subject: whale ecological importance

Jennifer D. Philips (jphilips@soest.hawaii.edu)
Tue, 5 Nov 1996 01:13:02 -1000 (HST)

David -

Thanks for you question!  Its a good one because it concerns larger
ecological issues that are important for the survival of not only whales,
but of all the species they interact with, either directly or indirectly.
Basically, all species are ecologically important.  As far as whales go,
there are a couple issues that I can think, but I would suggest further
reading in a book on basic ecology to understand fully how a species can
influence and be influenced by the world around it.  For whales, first I
find that they are extremely mobile animals, travelling further during
their year then most other vertebrates, except maybe some fish and some
birds (and of course technologically aided humans).  This means that their
influence is not locally confined;  it's global.  One species can go from
one pole, to the tropics and back again in a few monthes.  Another issue
is that they eat huge amounts of food, so their influence on the numbers
of their prey is vast.  A blue whale can eat several tons of krill in a
day, thus taking on the role of serverely limiting the population of that
species.  But, seriously, please read a good book on ecology to get more
information on this.  Whales are ecologically important, but so are all
species of plants and animals.  The world is a very dynamic, fragile
ecosystem of fine balances between species.  The actions of one species
affects other species around it, either directly or indirectly.  But
without such a system, the world would definitely be a very different
place.  So that's the worry expressed by many ecologists and
environmentalists today:  that we are too seriously changing our
environment by our actions (including our actions to lower the numbers of
whales in the world), and that we will have problems with this down the
line, sometime.  

Hope this helps!  Write again for more information on this, but I think if
you look up a good ecology book, you will get some great information.


Jen Philips
jphilip@soest.hawaii.edu

On Sun, 3 Nov 1996, David Stanford wrote:

> To whom it may concern:
> 
>        My name is David Stanford and I am currently a second year biology
> student at Memorial University of Newfoundland and I am doing a research
> paper on the importance of whales. I was wondering if you could give some
> clue to the ecological importance of these mammals or somewhere that I could
> find some information. Any information would greatly be appreciated.
> 
>                                                                    Yours truly,
>                                                                   David Stanford
> David Stanford
> 
> 

_________________________________________________________________________

Jennifer D. Philips				jphilips@soest.hawaii.edu

Marine Mammal Research Program - HIMB		(808) 236-4001
University of Hawaii, Manoa          
Honolulu, HI  96822	      "First, there were some amoebas. Deviant
			       amoebas adapted better to the environment,
			       thus becoming monkeys..."
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