Whales could help tackle climate change as they naturally absorb carbon dioxide - study

A new study has found whales could be helping to fight climate change as they reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

A whale's giant size isn't just breathtaking, it could also help fight climate change.

A group of scientists have explored how much of an impact whales have on our atmosphere, because they act as a carbon sink - something that absorbs greenhouse gases, like trees do.

"We're producing 10 billion tonnes of carbon a year that goes into the atmosphere. About 3 billion tonnes of that gets absorbed by the oceans," marine science researcher Professor Stephen Wing said.

Whales naturally absorb CO2 and the bigger they are the more they hold in their bodies.

When they die they sink to the bottom of the ocean, taking every bit of carbon dioxide they've absorbed with them and removing it from the earth's atmosphere for good. 

But whales are just the starting point. 

Prof Wing said there needs to be a bigger focus on the overall marine ecosystem, especially in Aotearoa as we are surrounded by so much water.

"We have such a large marine estate that should be at the forefront of what we are exploring scientifically."

A chance for New Zealand to make a difference in the fight against climate change.