The Prolific Afterlife of Whales Notes: - Investigators have documented dozens of communities that are supported by sunken whale carcasses and have described more than 400 species that are living in and around them, of which at least 30 have not been seen anywhere else. -Mussels were not the only new animals found in recovered whale bones: a tiny, previously unknown species of limpet. -Limpets are snail-like mollusks with conical rather than spiral shells - The clams and mussels belonged to groups known to harbor chemosynthetic bacteria. - Such bacteria can draw energy from inorganic chemicals, and they sometimes form the basis of entire ecosystems. -Whale falls, they observed, go through three partially overlapping ecological stages. 1. The first, which they called the mobile scavenger stage, starts when the whale carcass arrives on the seafloor. Hordes of hagfish tunnel through the meat, while a few sleeper sharks take larger bites. 2. The second stage, called the enrichment opportunist stage, lasts up to two years. During this period high-density, though low-diversity, communities of animals colonize the sediments surrounding the whale carcasses and the newly exposed bones. The animals feed directly on the large amounts of blubber. 3. The third, and longest, phase, known as the sulfophilic stage. Specialized bacteria anaerobically break down lipids contained in the bones. Unlike aerobic bacteria, which would use the molecular oxygen (O2) dissolved in seawater to digest nutrients, these microorganisms use dissolved sulfate (SO4) as their source of oxygen and release hydrogen sulfide (H2S) as waste. Animals cannot use this gas directly as a source of energy. -Osedax has little appendages that stick out into the water column for gas exchange but can be retracted into a mucous tube if disturbed. -Osedax is closely related to the giant tube worms that live at many vent and seep communities. Genetic evidence suggests that it is around 40 million years old. -Investigative groups are actively searching for them. The global distribution of modern whale-fall communities is also still poorly characterized. So far only a few whale carcasses have been found, and we know nothing about several areas that have large whale populations.
Summary: Scientist have been discovering multiple species that surrounds a whale's carcass. This led them to investigate and study the whales finding different type of worms and organisms whom are considered the basis of the entire ecosystem. Multiple countries around the world are experimenting with the whale's carcass for example Japan. The scientists soon start experiments finding washed up whales and putting them back in the ocean and sink them in very deep water but with 2,700 kilograms of steel ballast to help the whales sink. They soon realize that the whale's remains is seem like a stepping stone for other organisms that need to spread which are considered these three stages; the first stage is the Mobile Scavenger stage in which the whale's carcass reaches the ocean floor and hordes of hagfish eat through the meat and sharks takes bites. The second stage is called the enrichment opportunist stage which lasts up to two years. The third stage, sulfophilic stage is the longest stage.
Opinion: I think this is really amazing how the whales act as a food source to other organisms that will live in it's remanins for years. I find the Osedax really cool because it looks like a blob of mucous and is closely relative tot the giant tube worms and we think it have been evidence that it is around 40 million years old. It doesn't have a digestive tract and has no mouth, stomach or anus. It uses green fleshy roots to go though the exposed whales to get lipids or proteins. I find it cool that there is always new species found on these whale carcasses.