Publicado por: pongpesca | 2010/01/18

Whale fall!

Whale bones “Nick Higgs is on a research cruise off Japan to find out more about the amazing ecosystems that form around dead whales on the seabed.

He is a PhD student at the Natural History Museum and the University of Leeds. Following on from the last scientific cruise in the summer of last year, he has been invited to participate in another cruise with colleagues from the Japan Agency for Marine Science and TEChnology (JAMSTEC) and will be blogging about it at Planet Earth Online.

The team are going to visit the sunken remains of two sperm whales that were experimentally implanted in 2005 at a depth of 925m in Sagami Bay Japan – they had previously died after being stranded on the seashore. These carcasses are diversity hot-spots in the deep sea and one of Nick’s supervisors, Adrian Glover, has written for Planet Earth magazine about ‘whale falls’ and the amazing animals that inhabit them.

Nick is investigating the bone-eating ‘zombie worms’, Osedax, and how they bore into the whale bones. He wants to understand what these borings look like so that I might be able to find them in fossil whale bones. He also wants to know how much damage these worms do to the bones and how that might have affected the fossil record of whales. Might there be gaps in the fossil record?

Nick’s other supervisor, Cris Little, recently wrote a piece for Planet Earth about fossilization at hydrothermal vents, which contain similar types of animals to whale-falls. Samples that the team collects on this trip will help us understand the evolution of whales and the animals that depend on them for food.”

Fonte: Planet Earth online – 14 de Janeiro de 2010

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