The Reef Stage

The reef stage occurs following the complete depletion of whale organic material and is still somewhat undiscovered. It is thought that sessile organisms use the final remains of a whale’s skeleton to settle on. This includes suspension feeding organisms such as cold water corals, anemones and sponges which settle on remnants of whale skeletons in order to take advantage of the increased flow rate (Jumars and Gallagher, 1982) and hard substrate which is difficult to come by on the Abyssal sea bed. The greater flow rate allows for more efficient feeding of organic detritus (marine snow) which falls from the photic zone. The duration of this stage is unknown, however, it has the potential to last an extremely long time as, even when the whale skeleton is completely degraded, hard corals produce reef forming calcium carbonate.

Leave a Reply