A dead whale turns into a mini ecosystem

This phenomenon is called a whale fall. A whale fall is the carcass of a dead whale that has fallen into the abyssal zone (deeper than 1.000 m, or 3.300 ft) on the ocean floor. This can create a local ecosystem that supplies sustenance to deep-sea organisms for decades. This is unlike in shallower waters, where the carcass will be consumed by scavengers over a relatively short period of time.

Species that have been spotted at whale falls by deep-sea robotic exploration include giant isopods, lobsters, bristleworms, prawns, shrimp, lobsters, hagfish, crabs, sea cucumbers, and sleeper sharks.

Whale falls are able to occur in the deep open ocean thanks to cold temperatures and high hydrostatic pressures. In the coastal areas, a higher number of predators (like seagulls) as well as warmer waters speed up decomposition of the dead whale. Carcasses may also float due to decompositional gases, keeping them at the surface. In the deep-sea, cold temperature slows decomposition, and high pressure increases gas solubility, allowing these food falls to remain intact and sink to great depths.