University of Vermont

Gund Institute for Ecological Economics

Gund Fellow Joe Roman on BBC's "Power of Nature"

"Why whale poo is good for the oceans... and us"

Joe Roman, holds up a sample of whale feces in the Gulf of Maine. (Photo: Jeremy Winn)

Gund Fellow, Joe Roman, is featured in BBC's "Power of Nature" series that aired on February 4, 2014 and is available on BBC's website.  The special "The hidden power of whale poo" examines the evolution of our understanding of the role that whales play in nutrient cycling, ocean health, and biodiversity.  In the four-minute film, Joe teams up with Doug Allan, Dr. M Sanjayan and Stephanie Wear to shed light on the importance of phytoplankton and the role of whales as a major source of nutrients for phytoplankton.  

The episode is linked to Joe's previous research including his 2010 publication with James McCarthy on "The Whale Pump: Marine Mammals Enhance Primary Productivity in a Coastal Basin" in PLoS ONE and his book, “Whale” on the cultural and population history of whales and whaling.

Joe is trained as a conservation biologist but his research interests span endangered species policy, marine mammals, and biodiversity and human health. He recently returned from a semester at Duke as a McCurdy Visiting Scholar in their Marine Lab. He's turning around to leave in three weeks to lead a Gund Atelier in Cuba on Marine Spatial Planning with students from UVM, Duke, and the University of Havana.  Joe's productivity is impressive; he's bright, sharp and unbelievably creative.  He makes science fun. He's also one of the most humble people you'll meet.  We're always excited when his work gets the attention it deserves, and BBC Nature is definitely a great spotlight for him and his research.  Beautifully shot, the four-minute film makes you realize that whales are even cooler than we originally thought - which Joe knew all along.  Congratulations Joe!