Scientists were delighted on Wednesday after they discovered the remnants of a dead whale miles beneath the surface of the ocean, teeming with hungry octopuses, fish, crabs and worms.
The discovery was made by the Nautilus, a deep-sea research vessel that was finishing up its last dive of the season for a joint expedition between the nonprofit Ocean Exploration Trust and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Viewers on Wednesday could hear researchers burst out in surprise during a live feed of the dive as the vessel came upon the partially eaten skeleton.
“Dinner is served,” one researcher said, before another chimed in: “Oh, this is so cool.”
The decomposing carcass was between 13 and 16 feet long and came from a baleen whale, although researchers are still determining what species.
WHALEY BIG FIND! We’re still documenting the baleen whale skeleton we discovered with @MBNMS at Davidson Seamount off central CA’s coast. Scavenging fish and octopus strip blubber while bone-eating Osedax worms dissolve bones onsite.
— E/V Nautilus (@EVNautilus) October 16, 2019
“While evidence of whale falls have been observed to remain on the seafloor for several years, this appears to be a relatively recent fall with baleen, blubber, and some internal organs remaining,” the team wrote on Wednesday. “The site also exhibits an interesting mid-stage of ecological succession, as both large scavengers like eel pouts are still stripping the skeleton of blubber, and bone-eating Osedax worms are starting to consume lipids (fats) from the bones.”
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