Joe Roman, Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School for the Environment and Natural Resources and author of the book Whale, discusses whale dung and its importance to the ecosystem. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme that, contrary to most other marine species, whales feed at the ocean depths but defecate near to the surface, and that these whale feces, which are loaded with nitrogen, supply vital nutrients that fertilize their ocean gardens. We also discuss what whale poop looks and smells like, how to find it, and his other whale-related research.
Joe Roman was born and raised in New York and counts King Kong as an early conservation influence. He is a conservation biologist, as well as a Fellow at the Gund Institute of Ecological Economics, Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School for the Environment and Natural Resources, and research associate at the New England Aquarium. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 2003 in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and a Master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. During a fellowship with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he helped start an interdisciplinary program on Biodiversity and Human Health at the US Environmental Protection Agency. His most recent book, Whale (Reaktion Books), provides an in-depth look at the cultural and natural history of these majestic aquatic mammals. His next book, titled Listed: Dispatches from America’s Endangered Species Act, will be released by Harvard University Press in spring 2011. His most recent research paper, which has been featured on National Public Radio and elsewhere, focuses on what he calls “the whale pump” and how the dung of these marine mammals enhance primary productivity in a coastal basin.This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 24, 2010.