Revisiting a Whale Fall on Clayoquot Slope
During our NA151 expedition to the waters off British Columbia, OET and Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) revisited the site of a whale fall 1,250 meters deep at the Clayoquot Slope Bullseye site to see how the ecosystem has progressed over the years. Whale falls represent an oasis of food supply in an often food-poor deep-sea floor and sustain a diverse assemblage of marine organisms for up to decades. ONC has been observing this particular whale fall since 2012 during its yearly visits to maintain the observatory’s seafloor instruments at Bullseye, where scientists are also interested in studying and monitoring the processes controlling methane gas seeping from the seafloor.
This expedition repeated a photogrammetry survey, which was also performed in 2012 and in 2020 to take high-resolution videos of the entire whale skeleton, allowing the estimation of whale bone decomposition over a decade period. This site, which was originally discovered in 2009 by an expedition led by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, includes the ~16m long whale skeletonand associates such as Cocculina craigsmithi (gastropod), Mitrella (Astyris) permodesta (bucinoid gastropod), Ilyarachna profunda (isopod), Paralomis multispina (crab), Coryphaenoides acrolepis (rattail fish), and Lamellibrachia cf. barhami (tube worms).
For this expedition, we take a trip north to provide support to Ocean Networks Canada’s (ONC) wired seafloor observatory off the west coast of British Columbia where deployed technologies gather thousands of observations about dynamics across an entire tectonic plate.