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How long does a whale fall last?

3 min read

Asked by: Jonya Brooks

As whale bones are rich in lipids, representing 4–6% of its body weight, the final digestion stage can last between 50 and possibly 100 years.

What are the 3 stages in a whale fall?

According to researchers, whale falls pass through three stages:

  • Mobile scavengers stage.
  • The enrichment-opportunist stage.
  • Sulfophilic stage.


What happens after a whale fall?

When whales die and sink, the whale carcasses, or whale falls, provide a sudden, concentrated food source and a bonanza for organisms in the deep sea. Different stages in the decomposition of a whale carcass support a succession of marine biological communities. Scavengers consume the soft tissue in a matter of months.

How often do whale falls occur?

roughly every 5 to 16 km

But whale falls might be relatively common. Smith estimates that, based on current whale populations and whale-fall community persistence, dead whales may occur roughly every 5 to 16 km along the seafloor off the Pacific coast of North America. Distances such as these are easily traversed by planktonic larvae.

Do dead whales sink?

When a whale dies in the ocean, its carcass can become home to entirely new ecosystems. When whales die in the ocean, their bodies eventually sink to the bottom. Once the body comes to rest, biologists refer to this as a whale fall. As you would guess, other fish and sea animals initially eat the meat off the carcass.

Do all dead whales explode?

And as a whale has strong blubber a thick layer of vascularized fatty tissue under the already tough skin these gases have no way to escape as a result it creates a highly acidic.

Do whales sleep?

Observations of bottlenose dolphins in aquariums and zoos, and of whales and dolphins in the wild, show two basic methods of sleeping: they either rest quietly in the water, vertically or horizontally, or sleep while swimming slowly next to another animal.

What happens if you touch a dead whale?

Most scientists agree that whale explosions are unlikely. That’s because a dead whale’s skin will gradually form small tears, which will release some of the built-up gas. Whale explosions are more likely to happen if humans interfere with the corpse. For example, the skin could be punctured by an object.

Do beached whales ever survive?

Beached whales can only survive for a few hours on land. A high tide or helping hand from humans or fellow whales may help them reach deep waters once again.

How long does it take a whale carcass to decompose on land?

Decomposition of a whale fall occurs in three distinct stages, each of which benefits different marine species. The first stage allows animals like hagfish and sleeper sharks to pull soft tissue (including the abundant fat stores) from the whale’s carcass; this stage can last a few months or as long as 18 months.

Why do whales explode after dying?

This time the explosion resulted from the buildup of gas inside a decomposing sperm whale, which caused it to burst. The cause of the phenomenon was initially unknown, since it occurred in the spinal area of the whale, not in its abdomen as might be expected.

Why do whales explode after death?

A decomposing whale carcass generates gases which build up inside their stomach and large internal organs. This then causes them to expand, but whale skin and blubber are tough so the gases become trapped inside, according to National Geographic.