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What Whale Poo Looks Like

Updated on May 2, 2012

Let’s talk about whale poop. It’s messy, it’s stinky and it floats on the surface in woolly tufts. But because the topic of whale poop doesn't come up in everyday conversation or even in lists of whale facts, most people don't know that whale poop is the Miracle-Gro of the ocean, rich in nutrients and vital to the health of marine ecosystems.


According to research from the Australian Antarctic Division, whale poop is about 10 million times more concentrated with iron than sea water. Here's why:

  • Iron is found in algae (phytoplankton) on surface waters
  • Krill eat the algae
  • Whales eat the krill
  • The iron eventually ends up back at the surface in the form of whale poop
  • The algae use this iron for growth

This is a simplified version of what actually happens, but you get the idea. It’s a self-sustaining system with a very high level of production. Algae serves as the base for the aquatic food chain, so the more whale poop there is, the more abundant the ocean will be.


But that’s not all—this system also reduces global warming. The algal blooms act as carbon traps because they take up carbon as they grow and don’t release it until they die. Dead phytoplankton can sink to the ocean floor where they (and their carbon) are soon covered up by other sinking material. Think of it as a carbon landfill that disposes of what would otherwise accumulate in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. So even though sperm whales in the Southern Ocean have been found to release 220,462 tons of carbon when they exhale, their poop draws down 440,925 tons of carbon and helps offset greenhouse gases.

The colour and consistency of whale poop varies by species. Red poop, for example, is a telltale sign of a diet high in krill. Check it out:

Sperm Whale Poop


Blue Whale Poop


Humpback Whale Poo


Killer Whale Poop


Killer Whale Fecal Samples


Southern Resident Killer Whale Poop


Right Whale Poop


Have you ever seen whale poop?

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    • profile image

      Dalton ICARD 3 years ago

      Me and my mom where very curious to find out what the poop looked liked. We both thank you for showing and share information. Your information really helped me understand stuff about them better. It's always great to learn new things !

    • profile image

      Idk 3 years ago

      Nice lol

    • profile image

      suzanne 4 years ago

      there have been numerous humpback whales in the capitola ca area of late-now there are chunks of gooey white stuff floating everywhere. It is also caught up in the kelp. It smells like cod liver oil-must be whale poop, yes?

    • profile image

      Janelle Gibson 5 years ago

      I've been wondering for a very long time what whale poop looks like! Thanks! :) haha

    • profile image

      Chris smardz 6 years ago

      That's some wild lookin stuff. Some whales look like they eat too much mcdonalds

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 6 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      LOl -- you are a very cool writer - your topics are a delight! Thanks

    • cheaptrick profile image

      cheaptrick 6 years ago from the bridge of sighs

      Hmmm,seems like those Killer whales are constipated.Their poop looks minuscule in comparison with other whales...or maybe their old Killer whales cause old folks tend to have that problem so why not whales too!Ha!Your hubs are Sooo Out there I just Love em!Thanks


    • karwoo profile image

      karwoo 6 years ago from Lake Stevens

      I didn't know :P Interesting read

    • CarliFrenneman profile image

      CarliFrenneman 6 years ago

      My pleasure! I wasn't sure how people would react to whale poop so I'm glad you found it as interesting as I did!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Interesting hub! Whales are amazing animals and since they are big and eat a lot I guess the results must be according to the intake:) Thanks for showing me whale poop! Interesting and up!