C. Smith

A dead whale makes the ocean’s abyss come alive

In 2011, a 20-meter-long fin whale washed up on a beach near San Diego, California. Shortly thereafter, scientists got permission to drag its 23-ton body 20 kilometers out to sea where they strapped it to 7 tons of scrap metal and sank it roughly 1 kilometer down to the bottom of the ocean, The New Yorker reports. This whale, killed by a ship, presented a rare opportunity for deep-sea biologists to study the procession of creatures drawn to consume the corpse. Five missions visited the whale, nicknamed Rosebud, over the years as its profusion of white blubber and purple muscle gave way to an austere skeleton. How long it takes for the scavengers of the deep to consume a whale varies by location, but researchers estimate it could take half a century or more for Rosebud to disappear.

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