Re: deomposition

From: Peter M Scheifele (
Date: Sun Mar 05 2000 - 16:40:04 EST


Your question is not one that folks would think of addressing because we
take such things for granted. The simple version of the answer is that
dolphin flesh and feces decompose in the ocean in primarily the same way
as that of any terrestrial mammal. The cells die and rot. However,
there are some unique features of the ocean that have a stake in such a
process. Ocean water chemistry being what it is uses carbon (in the form
of dissolved carbon and carbon dioxide, for instance) and changes of pH
due to the Boric acid composition of the water, and assists the process.
As with terrestrials, the ocean contains scavengers who also help the
process. Once the remains have rotted or have been reduced to small
pieces they rain down onto the bottom and, in some areas, become part of
a "nepheloid layer" where benth9ic bacteria can perform the rest of the
process. In turn, nitrates are given up to the water column which is
basically plant food. I hope this helps.


Peter M. Scheifele
129 Hunters Road, Norwich, CT 06360

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