Antarctic's First-Ever Whale Skeleton Found - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Antarctic's First-Ever Whale Skeleton Found

YAHOO.COM - For the first time ever, scientists say they have discovered a whale skeleton on the ocean floor near Antarctica. Resting nearly a mile below the surface, the boneyard is teeming with strange life, including at least nine new species of tiny of deep-sea creatures, according to a new study.

Though whales naturally sink to the ocean floor when they die, it's extremely rare for scientists to come across these final resting places, known as "whale falls." Discovering one typically requires a remote-controlled undersea vehicle and some luck.

"At the moment, the only way to find a whale fall is to navigate right over one with an underwater vehicle," study researcher Jon Copley, of the University of Southampton in England, said in a statement. The team's chance encounter with a 35-foot-long (10.7 meter) spread of bones that belonged to a southern Minke whale came as they were exploring an undersea crater near the South Sandwich Islands.

"We were just finishing a dive with the U.K.'s remotely operated vehicle, Isis, when we glimpsed a row of pale-coloured blocks in the distance, which turned out to be whale vertebrae on the seabed," Copley explained.

When whales die and sink to the ocean floor, their carcasses provide nutritional boosts and habitats for deep-sea life. Though their flesh decomposes within weeks, whale bones can last anywhere from 60 to 100 years, supporting bacteria and strange creatures like zombie worms, which are mouthless, eyeless animals that feed off the skeletons.

"The planet's largest animals are also a part of the ecology of the very deep ocean, providing a rich habitat of food and shelter for deep sea animals for many years after their death," said Diva Amon, another University of Southampton researcher. "Examining the remains of this southern Minke whale gives insight into how nutrients are recycled in the ocean, which may be a globally important process in our oceans."

The Antarctic whale fall, thought to have been on the seafloor for several decades, was surveyed using high-definition cameras, and samples were collected to be studied back on land. The team encountered several new species of sea snails and worms that were living off the bones. They found a new species of isopod crustacean, similar to woodlice, crawling over the skeleton, according to a statement from the U.K. National Oceanography Centre. The researchers also found an undescribed species of zombie worms (Osedax), which could help scientists study how the mysterious species has managed to become surprisingly diverse and widespread. (They've been found in whale falls in the eastern and western Pacific as well as the North Atlantic.)

"One of the great remaining mysteries of deep ocean biology is how these tiny invertebrates can spread between the isolated habitats these whale carcasses provide on the seafloor," Adrian Glover, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, said in a statement.

A recent study suggested that the sex strategy of zombie worms is the key to their success. Females of the species Osedax japonica quickly mature and then constantly produce eggs that harems of dwarf males fertilize, scientists found. What's more, zombie worm larvae can swim actively for at least 10 days before settling on bones on the ocean floor, according to the new research, detailed last month in the journal Naturwissenschaften.

The study of the whale fall was recently published online in the journal Deep-Sea Research II: Topical Studies in Oceanography.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Coeur d'Alene Police investigating school shooting threat made on Snapchat

    Coeur d'Alene Police investigating school shooting threat made on Snapchat

    Friday, October 19 2018 1:04 AM EDT2018-10-19 05:04:39 GMT

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Coeur d'Alene Police are investigating a reported school shooting threat at Coeur d'Alene High School. A spokesperson for the district said that the threat was written on a napkin and shared  on Snapchat. It says: "CHS school shooting 10-19-18. Be ready." Police tell us that while they are still investigating whether the threat is credible, they do not believe the CHS that the note mentions is referring to Coeur d'Alene High School.

    >>

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Coeur d'Alene Police are investigating a reported school shooting threat at Coeur d'Alene High School. A spokesperson for the district said that the threat was written on a napkin and shared  on Snapchat. It says: "CHS school shooting 10-19-18. Be ready." Police tell us that while they are still investigating whether the threat is credible, they do not believe the CHS that the note mentions is referring to Coeur d'Alene High School.

    >>
  • Explosive device that caused CdA evacuations rendered safe

    Explosive device that caused CdA evacuations rendered safe

    Friday, October 19 2018 6:51 PM EDT2018-10-19 22:51:23 GMT

    Ramsey Elementary and Coeur d' Alene Police station have been evacuated after an explosive device was brought to the station for disposal. Police have called in a bomb squad to dispose of the device and evacuated the buildings as a precaution. Coeur d' Alene School District released the following statement regarding the situation: 

    >>

    Ramsey Elementary and Coeur d' Alene Police station have been evacuated after an explosive device was brought to the station for disposal. Police have called in a bomb squad to dispose of the device and evacuated the buildings as a precaution. Coeur d' Alene School District released the following statement regarding the situation: 

    >>
  • K9 Laslo passes away

    K9 Laslo passes away

    Friday, October 19 2018 9:21 AM EDT2018-10-19 13:21:56 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - After struggling with medical issues recently, retired Spokane County Sheriff's Office K9 Laslo passed away early Friday morning.  "It is with the most heavy heart that I tell you K9 Laslo passed away this morning at 0115hrs," a post on Laslo's Facebook page said Friday morning. "There will be a piece of my heart always missing. To the best partner I ever had, R.I.P." 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - After struggling with medical issues recently, retired Spokane County Sheriff's Office K9 Laslo passed away early Friday morning.  "It is with the most heavy heart that I tell you K9 Laslo passed away this morning at 0115hrs," a post on Laslo's Facebook page said Friday morning. "There will be a piece of my heart always missing. To the best partner I ever had, R.I.P." 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Mad Minute stories from Thursday, October 18th

    Mad Minute stories from Thursday, October 18th

    Friday, October 19 2018 1:38 AM EDT2018-10-19 05:38:17 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Thursday, October 18th.

    >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Thursday, October 18th.

    >>
  • Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, October 17th

    Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, October 17th

    Thursday, October 18 2018 2:23 AM EDT2018-10-18 06:23:59 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, October 17th.

    >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Wednesday, October 17th.

    >>
  • Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, October 16th

    Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, October 16th

    Wednesday, October 17 2018 2:36 AM EDT2018-10-17 06:36:45 GMT

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, October 16th.

    >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, October 16th.

    >>