top of page

Whales Get A Second Life As Deep-Sea Buffets


Whales As Deep-Sea Buffets

What happens to a whale when it dies?

Their corpses, known as "whale falls," create an energy-rich environment, attracting a diverse range of deep-sea creatures to feast. Whale falls develop their ecosystems. Whale falls are evolutionary anomalies because they shelter organisms found on the bones of deceased whales. These creatures have evolved to survive in the deep sea's harsh habitat: a frigid climate with high pressure and complete darkness. Most of the organisms down there feed on dead & decaying material which falls from the surface, producing "marine snow" – dead phytoplankton, dead animal shells, faces, and other inorganic waste. However, now, and again, something bigger hits the seabed.


History

A team of marine researchers launched Hercules, a remote-controlled vehicle, to the ocean's deepest depths. It aimed to pay a visit to an octopus community. It happened near an underwater volcano off the coast of central California. Hercules' flashlight and camera discovered a parade of fascinating animals late one night after scanning a lengthy stretch of the barren seabed. A tiny bottom-feeder known as