AFRICAN MARA RIVER DEFINED BY HIPPO POO
Everybody and every living thing poos. I poo, you poo, and hippos poo, too. But hippos are large. So is their poo. We humans tend to pollute water systems with our poo. We’ve done it enough and there are enough of us that our poo kills off fish in natural water systems. But now, thanks to a new study, we know that hippos and their massive excrements cause a mass fish kill as well. The study was done by a team of scientists in the United States. So what was their focus? Hippo poo in the Mara River in Africa’s Tanzania and Kenya.
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HIPPO POO MASSES FLUSH RIVER, CAUSE MASS FISH KILL
The scientists found that over a three year period, that 49 different “high flow” poo masses ran down the Mara River. 13 of those high flows caused a near total depletion of the water’s oxygen. No oxygen means that the fish can’t breath and die. All of them die. At least, that was true for nine of the 13 poo flows in five years. The study’s paper appeared in Nature Communications. Hippos are known to be ecosystem engineers as they graze and wallow in water systems. They transfer massive amounts of organic matter and nutrients from grazing lands into water systems, mostly via their poo.
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HIPPOS COLLECTIVE POO 52,800 METRIC TONS A YEAR
Scientists think there are roughly 70,000 hippopotami. Those numbers translate to 52,800 metric tons every single year of mostly poo. That’s a lot of poo. Think Godzilla poo, but a whole lot more. Scientists believe that amount of poo has a huge impact on aquatic biochemistry and local food webs. Hippos tend to poo in the remaining water pools during the dry season. But all that poo builds up and occasionally flushes, all at once, into the river where it wreaks havoc, such as a mass fish kill. But there are now proposals to build dams on the Mara, which could make things complicated. That means we don’t know how bad things will be. So as it is, these hippo poo pools are a natural phenomenon, as are these fish kills.
HIPPO POO MAKES WORLD SPLASH
So now you know something you didn’t know before about Hippos. Their poo is epic and helps define the world. Literally.