Serpulid worm #marineexplorer #underwatersydney

Serpulid worm #marineexplorer #underwatersydney by John Turnbull

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Camp Cove

Beautiful skies over Sydney #marineexplorer

Beautiful skies over Sydney #marineexplorer by John Turnbull

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The Gap is in the foreground, south head to the right, and the coathanger in the distance

Blue spotted Elysia #seaslugcensus #marineexplorer #underwatersydney

Blue spotted Elysia #seaslugcensus #marineexplorer #underwatersydney by John Turnbull

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Camp Cove. See the eye? This tiny nudi is a few mm long. You can also see the algal cells in its tissues


This October, researchers on the Expedition Vessel Nautilus got a spooky treat when they were exploring the deep waters of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary:

A whale fall!

When a whale dies at sea, its body sinks to the seafloor. There, it’s known as a whale fall. Whale falls serve as an important food source for animals from large sharks to small worms, and can feed communities for years to decades (!).

This whale fall is estimated to have been on the seafloor for about four months. Researchers spotted Muusoctopus octopuses, eel pouts, crabs, and other animals feeding.

They also saw many small Osedax worms (the reddish fuzzy-looking stuff on the GIFs below). These worms dissolve the bone to consume the fats within it. 

(The green dots you see in these GIFs are lasers that help researchers tell the size of objects they’re looking at. The dots are 10 centimeters apart.)

This whale fall was spotted at a depth of 10,623 feet on the flank of Davidson Seamount, an underwater mountain off the coast of California. The whale skeleton is lying on its back and is an estimated 13 to 16 feet in length. We’re not sure what species it is yet, but it’s definitely a baleen whale (some of the baleen still remains). 

Check out our video to see more of the whale fall, and to hear the scientists’ delight in finding it:

[GIFs credited to OET/NOAA. They show various views of the whale fall. The first two show the full whale skeleton in a pool of light; many octopuses and fish surround the skeleton. The second two GIFs show closer views of octopuses and fish feeding on the skeleton.]

Framed in the net H whitei seahorse #marineexplorer #underwatersydey

Framed in the net H whitei seahorse #marineexplorer #underwatersydney by John Turnbull

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Clifton Gardens

Peeking through the net - H whitei #marineexplorer #underwatersydney

Peeking through the net – H whitei #marineexplorer #underwatersydney by John Turnbull

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It seems like all the seahorses have moved from the pylons to the nets at Clifton Gardens at the moment – I counted a dozen or so peering through – making for great pics!

Sepia plangon cuttlefish #marineexplorer #underwatersydney

Sepia plangon cuttlefish #marineexplorer #underwatersydney by John Turnbull

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Doing the wavy arm-y thing at Clifton Gardens

Trachinops taeniatus - Eastern hulafish #marineexplorer #underwatersydney

Trachinops taeniatus – Eastern hulafish #marineexplorer #underwatersydney by John Turnbull

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Even a tiny fish can make a scene at Fairy Bower

💛Pikachu 🖤

📍: 🇵🇱

📣: Thecacera pacifica

Zig zag #marineexplorer

Zig zag #marineexplorer by John Turnbull

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Aerial shots often highlight the distinction between the complex chaos of nature and the ordered geometry of human construction.