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Consumers and Decomposers

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Feast In The Deep
Teacher Contributed

Feast In The Deep

This dead whale is more than a means of transportation for a tired bird. It's a dietary boon for many organisms. The question is will it make to shore or to the deep?

Yum, Blubber!

Life on the deep-sea floor can be lonely--not a lot of food, not a lot of light. Sure, you get to see some spectacular bioluminescent displays every once in awhile. But usually you have to just look for food all day and there isn't much. Sometimes, though, blessings fall from above... Sometimes it's a party and you get to eat whale!

Hmmm, someone forgot to tell this polar bear (Ursus maritimus) they were only supposed to eat seals.

Head Scratchers

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. How does a whale-fall benefit the deep-sea community? How diverse are the members of the community which are benefitted?
  2. What is the first stage of succession of a whale-fall community? What happens in this stage? What types of animals are involved?
  3. How do the animals involved in the first stage of succession differ from the animals in the second stage of succession? List as many differences as you can.
  4. How long can it take for a whale-fall community to reach its final successional stages? What's the main determinant of how long it takes?
  5. Are you surprised by the diversity of Osedax worms in Monterey Canyon? Why or why not? How does this genus of worms reach such diversity when they are all feeding on bone?

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