Whales are what we tend to call charismatic megafauna. People love these critters, they have a certain cute factor, there is a mysticism that surrounds these giants of the sea. They have social networks sometimes similar to ours. All these things draw people to love these animals. This can make them an important tool to further marine conservation, after all if people want to save whales then surely they want to conserve the very environments that whales need to survive? But more often than not the little fish. so crucial to whales and countless other marine species at every level of the oceans ecosystems are forgotten. Who cares about these guys? Well you should care. Anyone that has any interest, any passion in the conservation, sustainable management and survival of our oceans should care about the little fish. Really it is common sense; not only do whales reap the benefits of the little fish but we do too. We like to eat big fish - big fish like to eat little fish; so many species rely on the little fish. So surely it would be nonsensical to remove these mighty little fish from the oceans? Well think again, we are removing little fish from the ocean - after all tight schools of fish are easy to scoop up. They provide a cheap source for fertilizer, for fish farm feed. The Pew Foundation has produced a brilliant animated video that shows beautifully why the little fish is so important to marine ecosystems and to us humans, highlighting the economic, trophic and conservation values of the little fish. So next time you think about whales, think about the little fish, arguably mightier than the great whale.
I am a wildlife biologist and I have a fascination with the marine environment and particularly whales. I work to understand our impacts on the marine environment and how our work as scientists can facilitate better management that aims to reduce the effects of human activities on marine species and their environment.