Blog Tags: Whale Fall
The fascinating, if morbid, process is illustrated by this excellent animated video by Sweet Fern Productions, a visual complement to a recent episode of RadioLab:
So what happens when a whale falls to the seafloor?
Large animals, like sleeper sharks and hagfish are the first to the scene, and tear into the fatty tissue with delight. Depending on the size of the whale, this “mobile scavenger” phase can last up to two years.
The next to arrive are the mussels, clams, and other opportunists who ferociously devour the leftover tissue and clean the carcass down to the bone. The sulfophillic stage begins once the skeleton is all that’s left and the bigger creatures have moved on. Special bacteria that can break down whale bones settle in for a 50 year banquet.
Whale falls create opportunities for critters big and small, and can act as stepping stones between ecosystems in the deep sea. An oasis for animals, mollusks, and bacteria, these whale fall sites support life in the deep sea for up to 75 years.
Pretty neat, huh?
Ariel Kagan is an intern for Oceana's Seafood Fraud campaign.
- Ocean Roundup: Humpback Whales Communicate to Feed at Night, Bangladesh Oil Spill Threatening Sundarbans Mangroves, and More Posted Wed, December 17, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Filefish Use Chemical Scent to Camouflage, Bangladesh Oil Spill Threatening Endangered Dolphins, and More Posted Mon, December 15, 2014
- Act: GrubHub, Take Shark Fin Off the Menu! Posted Wed, December 17, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Humpback Whales Frequenting New York City Waters, Oceans House Over 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces, and More Posted Thu, December 11, 2014
- Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Gain New Protections Posted Mon, December 15, 2014