You might imagine the frigid waters off Antarctica to be barren. But as this BBC video shows, there’s a shocking amount of life in McMurdo Sound. Death, it seems, has spurred the bustle of life captured on film. Nine-foot-long carnivorous worms slither through an undulating carpet of red sea stars, all moving across the sea floor toward a sudden meal: a dead seal pup.
|When a whale dies, the scavengers, including squat lobsters, sleeper sharks, and crabs, rip apart the flesh in a feeding frenzy that can last a decade—the “horror movie stage,” as marine biologist Adrian Glover, of London’s Natural History Museum, puts it. As bits of soft tissue rain down, bringing a pulse of nutrients, a motley entourage of opportunistic worms, mollusks, and crustaceans move in.
Once the whale is stripped bare, a dense community of anaerobic bacteria dines among the decaying bones. Finally, the carcass acts as a sort of reef, providing habitat for filter feeders and worms such as Osedax, which excavate the lipid-laden bones. Fish, octopuses, and crabs move in to munch on the degraded whalebones, consuming worms and mussels along the way.
Continue reading "Fall Guys" here.