WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A DEAD WHALE?

December 2006

As  you may have heard, in the 1970s the US coastguard decided to blow up a dead whale, with predictable and amusing results.

But what happens in nature? Most whales die in the sea and drift down to the ocean bed (“whalefall”), where they provide a rich source of food, especially for some bizarre bone-eating worms (Osedax frankpressi), which were discovered in 2004, 3000m down in the Pacific.

In 2005, another species (Osedax mucofloris –  “bone-eating snot-flower”) was discovered off Sweden in a long-term study of how a whale decomposed in 120m of water. Osedax worms are about 1-2 cm long, and in Sweden they have found only females…

Magazine articles here and here. Original research article (open access) here. Video of  Osedax mucofloris here.

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Filed under Mammals, Videos

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