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Lo! Shark god protects us from storms, floods, heatwaves (sayth Nature & ABC)

Big news: A new endogenous forcing found for climate change — sharks. For millions of years you thought predator-prey relationships were just about big fish having dinner, but not so, they are climate forcings. Sharks cool the planet, and stop storms, floods, droughts and malaria. Crabs, on the other hand, pollute like a coal company. It’s a miracle that the planet made it through the last billion years without the EPA managing the  shark-crab numbers thing. This ABC interview inspired me to channel the spirit of neolithic science.

The dusken-shark doth smite the naughty fishies and give us nice weather

New research has found that sharks play an important role in preventing climate change, warning that overfishing and culling sharks is resulting in more carbon being released from the seafloor.

“Sharks, believe it or not, are helping to prevent climate change,” said Dr Peter Macreadie, an Australian Research Council Fellow from Deakin University and one of the paper’s authors.

Sharks: Good.  Crabs and Turtles: Bad.  Kill those turtles!

“Turtles, crabs, certain types of worms, stingrays — these animals that are overabundant to do with loss of predators used to keep their numbers in check,” Dr Macreadie said.

Someone send a note to Greenpeace — those turtle eggs are killing the planet.

The researchers used Cape Cod in Massachusetts as an example of where this process had been observed.

“There had been overfishing in the region, so a lot of the big fish had been removed and then what we saw was an increase — a remarkable increase, a huge increase — in the number of crabs that bury and borrow down in the system, in the salt marsh which sequestered all this carbon,” Dr Macreadie said.

“And we’d found that in an area there, the crabs had become so abundant that they had pretty much destroyed the salt marsh, and it was a small area, it was only 1.5 square kilometres, but it liberated 250,000 tonnes of carbon that had been stored in the ground.”

So the evil crabs release a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon? I say, save the planet with Chilli Crab Linguine!

Ooh. Look. There’s an Australian version: Chilli Crab Linguine With Vodka.

But don’t kill the turtles. They can buy carbon credits instead.

PS: This is going to be hard for big-chief climate modelers — tricky feedbacks ahead. In 2008 global warming was blamed for causing shark attacks. Now shark attacks are saving us from global warming.

Cue jokes now about how climate change jumped the shark…

h/t Brian, Michael Kile.

UPDATE: Leo G in comments: Critics say large-scale Cooked Crab Sequestration deployment is unproven and decades away from being commercialised.

UPDATE: Sophocles — What we really need to know is what effect [sharks] have on earth quakes…

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