Now that the LOHAFEX iron fertilization project has produced only modest results, proponents have turned to a new argument: iron fertilization will create more food for blue whales. By stimulating the growth of algae, the theory goes, there will be more food for the krill upon which blue whales feed. Not so fast: according to ASOC's own Sian Prior, "The reduction in great whale numbers has not been attributed to lack of food. Rather it is due to over-exploitation of the whales."
So what exactly did happen as a result of the LOHAFEX experiment? Not much. The six tons of iron dumped into the Southern Ocean did not take up very much carbon dioxide. The experiment succeeded in inducing a large algal bloom, but the bloom was quickly devoured by copepods, who themselves were eaten by amphipods. For fertilization to work, it is assumed that the algae, having taken up CO2, will die and sink to the ocean floor. Since more of the bloom was eaten than scientists expected, the end result was that very little CO2 was absorbed and sent to the ocean floor. Scientists aren't quite sure why LOHAFEX failed to live up to expectations; however, they seem determined to continue exploring ocean fertilization. Hence the emergence of the "it's good for the whales" argument. While there can be little doubt that removal of CO2 from the atmosphere would be a good idea, interfering with ecosystems on such a large scale merits extreme caution, not unsupported claims of helping whales.