nerc.ac.uk

The discovery of a natural whale fall in the Antarctic deep sea

Amon, Diva J.; Glover, Adrian G.; Wiklund, Helena; Marsh, Leigh; Linse, Katrin; Rogers, Alex D.; Copley, Jonathan T.. 2013 The discovery of a natural whale fall in the Antarctic deep sea. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 92. 87-96. 10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.01.028

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)

Abstract/Summary

Large cetacean carcasses at the deep-sea floor, known as ‘whale falls’, provide a resource for generalist-scavenging species, chemosynthetic fauna related to those from hydrothermal vents and cold seeps, and remarkable bone-specialist species such as Osedax worms. Here we report the serendipitous discovery of a late-stage natural whale fall at a depth of 1444 m in the South Sandwich Arc. This discovery represents the first natural whale fall to be encountered in the Southern Ocean, where cetaceans are abundant. The skeleton was situated within a seafloor caldera, in close proximity (<250 m) to active hydrothermal vents. We used a DNA barcoding approach to identify the skeleton as that of an Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). The carcass was in an advanced state of decomposition, and its exposed bones were occupied by a diverse assemblage of fauna including nine undescribed species. These bone fauna included an undescribed species of Lepetodrilus limpet that was also present at the nearby hydrothermal vents, suggesting the use of whale-fall habitats as stepping stones between chemosynthetic ecosystems. Using Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) videography, we have quantified the composition and abundance of fauna on the whale bones, and tested a hypothesis that varying concentrations of lipids in the bones of whales may influence the microdistribution of sulfophilic whale-fall fauna. Our data supported the hypothesis that more lipid-rich bones support a greater abundance of sulfophilic bacterial mats, which are also correlated with the abundance of grazing limpets (Pyropelta sp.). The abundance of Osedax sp. on bones however, showed a negative correlation with the bacterial-mat percentage cover, and hence greatest abundance on bones predicted to have lowest lipid content.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.01.028
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Polar Science for Planet Earth (2009 - ) > Environmental Change and Evolution
ISSN: 09670645
Additional Keywords: Osedax; Whale bone; Lipid; Bacterial mat; Minke whale; Taphonomy; Whale fall; Whalefall
Date made live: 13 Jun 2013 09:53 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/502226

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...