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Marine Researchers Stumble Upon Decomposing Whale Skeleton During Live-Stream Dive

mason.zimmer 17 Oct 2019

There will likely come a time when your friends are super excited about something that you have absolutely zero experience with.

Since I'm one of those strange people who still hasn't seen Game Of Thrones, I spent a lot of the past year sitting in vague amusement while my friends angrily discussed Daenerys Targaryen's actions, coffee cups, and a series of fanciful names that I had only a passing familiarity with.

It's normally hard not to be bored when everyone's discussing something you've never seen, but it can be pretty infectious when it's clear just how passionate they are about it.

So for any Twitter users who may be confused and a little curious as to why people have been excitedly going on about "whale falls" lately, I hope to provide some much-needed context for the full video.

To make sense of any of this, we first need to explain what a whale fall is.

Twitter | @EVNautilus

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ecosystems of the deep sea rely heavily on nutrients from the surface. So when a whale dies and sinks to the depths of the ocean, it is immediately set upon by a colorful gallery of sea creatures.

This event is known as a whale fall and it can sustain scavengers for months at a time, as well as enrich the nearby sediments and support smaller micro-organisms for years.

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Given that so much sea life will converge on a whale carcass at once during a whale fall, it ends up being quite the spectacular sight.

Twitter | @EVNautilus

Fortunately, the crew of the scientific exploration ship Nautilus were able to capture the feeding frenzy live through the cameras of a remote-controlled underwater vehicle they brought with them named Hercules.

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And it was immediately clear that a massive group of fish and octopus had shown up to the party.

Twitter | @EVNautilus

According to the Nautilus crew, they were interested in stripping blubber from the decaying whale while Osedax worms worked to dissolve its bones.

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And it's immediately clear in the full video that the Nautilus crew is very excited about what they've happened upon.

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For others on Twitter, hearing them geek out about what was going on was about as charming as watching the little octopuses scurrying around.

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However, it was pretty clear that the viewers had a favorite part that the team didn't seem to notice.

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As Hercules pulled away from the whale skeleton, a single octopus could be seen waving at them.

Whether this was a coincidence, a friendly goodbye, or the octopus telling the crew to get their own blubber is open to interpretation.

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In any case, it made for some interested and oddly adorable viewing considering it involves watching fish devour a whale carcass.

And you can get a glimpse of the team's encounter with this whale fall in the full video.

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