December 6, 2010

Images related to the MBARI News Release Fleshing out the life histories of dead whales

Note: These images may not be copied, reprinted, or used without explicit permission from MBARI. Members of the media needing higher-resolution versions should contact Kim Fulton-Bennett,, 831-775-1835.


These five photomontages show the decomposition of a 3,000-meter-deep whale carcass in Monterey Canyon over a seven-year period.
Image credit: © 2006 MBARI

Deep-sea Tanner crab (Chionocetes tanneri) and whale bones.
Image credit: © 2006 MBARI

Thousands of amphipods swarm around the skull of a gray whale that has lain on the bottom of Monterey Bay for a few months.
Image credit: © 2007 MBARI

Whale vertebrae and herd of pink sea cucumbers (Scotoplanes globosa) on seafloor.
Image credit:© 2006 MBARI

Two deep-sea fish, a blob sculpin (Psychrolutes phrictus), and a snubnose eelpout (Pachycara bulbiceps) next to a whale fall.
Image credit: © 2008 MBARI

A variety of animals have colonized this whale skull, including red deep-sea crabs, white “squat lobsters,” and multicolored pom-pom anemones. The yellow rope holds a sonar beacon (not shown) that allows researchers to find the whale fall in the darkness of the deep sea.
Image credit: © 2003 MBARI

This photograph shows a deep-sea urchin Allocentrotus fragilis, which has crawled up onto a whale vertabra. Recent research shows that most of the animals that colonize dead whales in Monterey Canyon are relatively common deep-sea species such as this one.
Image credit: © 2006 MBARI

This photograph shows newly discovered bone-eating snails in the genus Rubyspira that are feasting on a whale bone. Squat lobsters, white anemones, and reddish Osedax worms are also visible in the image.
Image credit: © 2006 MBARI


This photograph shows one of the newly discovered bone-eating Rubspira snails next to a fossil snail relative from the Cretaceous era.
Image credit: Shannon Johnson © 2010 MBARI





Robert C. Vrijenhoek
Senior Scientist/Evolutionary Biologist

For additional information or images relating to this article, please contact: Kim Fulton-Bennett