Because of their impressive sizes, whales provide a source of food for many aquatic organisms upon their death. Their carcasses sink to the ocean floor, where they become the base structure for an entire ecosystem that begins to be built around their bones. It is in such ecosystems that experts recently discovered new, never-before-seen marine species, which apparently only feed on dead whales. The find was made by researchers at the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden, AlphaGalileo
In their investigation, the scientists used the DNA sampling technology to prove that the diversity of marine species in the world's oceans might, in fact, be a lot greater than first estimated by oceanographers and biologists. The find is made even more amazing by the fact that whales do not die in predefined places. This makes any species feeding only on them prone to extinction within a few years. However, it would appear that the new-found animals are able to survive in spite of this drawback.
The experts also note that a whale body provides animals feeding on it with about the same amount of nutrients that naturally falls to the ocean floor over about 2,000 years, except in only one go. Sharks and hagfish are the prime consumers of whale meet, stripping the bones dry. Afterwards, an extremely large number of species clog together on the remains, consuming whatever nutrients they can, or are specialized on feeding upon. One such highly skilled animal is the bristleworm, which is similar to the ground-based earthworm.
Osedax (a member of this species) is, for example, able to use its root end to drill through the bone, in search of specific nutrients. Another type of worms is specialized in eating the layers of bacteria that develop on the skeleton immediately after the bones are exposed. The UG study revealed no less than nine new species of these bacteria-grazing bristleworms, as described in a dissertation from the Department of Zoology at the university.