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  • What is whale fall?

  • Whale fall refers to the phenomenon that occurs  when a dead whale sinks to the ocean floor,  

  • creating a complex and nutrient-rich ecosystem  

  • that can sustain a variety of  deep-sea organisms for decades.

  • As the whale carcass descends, it goes through  several stages of decomposition. Initially,  

  • scavengers like sharks and hagfish  consume the soft tissues. Then,  

  • organisms specializing in bone degradation  take over, extracting nutrients from the bones.

  • Simultaneously, the organic matter from  the whale enriches the sediment around it,  

  • allowing bacteria and other  microorganisms to flourish.

  • These, in turn, attract bottom-dwelling  organisms like crabs and sea stars.  

  • Sulfur-reducing bacteria also colonize the bones,  

  • providing a basis for chemosynthetic  life forms, much like hydrothermal vents.

  • A single whale fall can thus become  a thriving, multi-tiered ecosystem,  

  • offering a rare oasis of abundance  in the nutrient-poor deep sea.

What is whale fall?

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