Photo album:

Whale Fall at Santa Cruz Basin

While exploring a relatively young submarine landslide in the Santa Cruz Basin off Southern California, the team aboard Nautilus discovered a natural whale fall. When a whale dies and sinks to the seafloor, the carcass of the cetacean introduces an extra food source into the ecosystem that can support communities of life for years after the whale has perished. Even though sights like these are often rare to come across in the deep sea, the Nautilus team explored a natural whale fall last year, and the well-documented Rosebud Whale Fall off the coast of San Diego. 

Click through to learn more about the stages of decomposition and seafloor dwellers that colonize these whale falls.