University of Vermont

Center for Cultural Pluralism

UVM Biologist on BBC’s “Power of Nature”

humpback whale
Humpback whales are one of several species studied by UVM biologist Joe Roman. (Photo courtesy NOAA)

UVM conservation biologist Joe Roman will be featured in a new program airing on the BBC’s “Power of Nature” series. As part of an episode on whales, Roman will discuss his pioneering research on the ecological value of whale feces to nutrient cycling in the ocean.

The program, “Whales: Gardeners of the Ocean,” will premiere on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

More information is available at:

Roman, along with Stephanie Wear from the Nature Conservancy, will describe how whales help keep oceans healthy, carrying nutrients from the depths to surface waters as part of an ecological chain that stretches into the atmosphere and human economies, too.

“I'll be talking about whale ecology — which, for me, means poop,” says Roman. His original scientific work on this system, dubbed a “whale pump,” attracted attention from reporters and scientists around the globe when it was announced in 2010.

Roman is also the author of the book, Whale.

The new ten-part series aims to reveal "there’s more to the Earth’s great wild places than just their natural beauty,” a BBC release notes.

Using HD imagery, the four-minute films “focus on a diverse range of the Earth’s most spectacular places and uncover the profound impact individual animals have on them,” the BBC release says.

From gardener elephants in African rainforests to sea otters of the North Pacific, the series will include stunning images of the natural world — including spectacular but little-understood whales and an exploration of their their unexpected role in ocean ecosystems.