White Cliffs of Dover.
Fish poo, dead whales, and the Japan earthquake
23 March 2011
This week in the Planet Earth Podcast: how the famous White Cliffs of Dover could be made of fish poo (at least partially), why one researcher is so interested in dead whales, and why the Japan earthquake was so powerful and devastating.
You might have thought that scientists know pretty much all there is to know about fish. But they recently made a rather surprising discovery. It turns out they excrete large amounts of calcium carbonate into the oceans – that's the same stuff that coral reefs are made of. To do this they have to drink the human equivalent of an astounding 12 litres of sea water every day.
But the big question is: what happens when these carbonates leave the fish? Could fish from the ancient past have contributed to the limestone and chalk rocks we see around us today? Richard Hollingham meets the scientists behind the study to find out more.
Later: what have worms and rotting whale bones got to do with the fossil record? Well, they could well be the key to explaining a gap in the evolution of modern whales. Sue Nelson talks to a scientist with a penchant for dead whales to see what the fuss is all about.
Click the play button above to listen now.
A full text transcript is available.
Finally, we hear exactly why the earthquake in Japan was so huge and why the tsunami was so devastating. One of our audio diary contributors who's in French Polynesia has sent a despatch – her experiences really give a sense of the scale of the disaster.
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