Subject: Whales after death

Jennifer D. Philips (
Sun, 01 Nov 1998 17:37:02 -1000

>hi. i have a question to ask you..."what happens to a whale when it dies?
>happens to it's body?"
>thanks again!

When a whale dies at sea, its body may float at the surface of the ocean
until currents carry it to the shore, where it may wash onto the beach (and
create a huge fuss with people nearby!).   But, more often the whale dies
at sea and its body eventually sinks to the bottom of the ocean.  An
interesting finding recently is that the whale carcass probably serves as
the foundation of incredible ecosystems on the bottom of the ocean, perhaps
as stepping stones for deap sea organisms that normally live only near hot,
gaseous plumes called hydrothermal vents.   

A newly died whale carcass is also fed upon by a huge variety of creatures
as it floats at the surface and then later as it sinks to the bottom.
Sharks, fish,  and zooplankton may all take part.  

I hope I've answered your question!  Thanks for your questions to whalenet.

Aloha -
Jen Philips

Jennifer D. Philips

Marine Mammal Research Program
HIMB, University of Hawaii at Manoa
PO Box 1106			
Kailua, HI  96734
voice:  (808) 247-5063
fax: (808) 247-5831