ACS Monterey Bay Program for March 2004
Whalefalls: new insights into ecology on the deep sea
Photo © 2002 MBARI. Crabs and an octopus living
on the skull of the dead whale observed by ROV Tiburon
in October 2002.
Speaker: Robert Vrijenhoek, Senior
- Thursday, March 25, 2004
- 7 p.m. Refreshments, 7:30
- Lecture Hall, Monterey Boatworks,
Hopkins Marine Station, Pacific Grove (Across
from American Tin Cannery Outlet Stores)
Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)
As many as 500 Gray whales may die each
year along their migratory path. Many, perhaps most, reach
the deep sea floor. There they are scavenged by such organisms
as sharks and hagfish. Later, the carcasses are colonized
by a unique community of invertebrates including clams,
tubeworms and other groups. This "successional community"
resembles in some ways that found at hydrothermal vents
and cold seeps. The use of submersibles has led to some
During February 2002 MBARI scientists discovered the well-preserved
carcass of a juvenile Gray whale at 2,891 m. depth in the
axis of the Monterey Canyon. The 9-10 m long carcass had
settled approximately 31 km offshore against the northern
wall of the Canyon. The scientists were impressed by the
abundance of unusual polychaete worms feeding on and around
the carcass, and several of these worms have proved to be
new to science. Subsequently the site was visited four times
to document faunal changes in one of the deepest large food
falls discovered to date.
Related web pages:
|| Glossary ||
ACS Monterey Bay home page ||
© 2002 MBARI. All rights reserved.
(from MBARI web page http://www.mbari.org/news/news_releases/2002/dec20_whalefall.html)
Last updated April 4, 2004.