living computation / Dave Ackley

Death Is Just The Beginning

I just watched an amazing video, linked by Hoophy on the TodePond discord server. It’s inauspiciously titled The Stages of Whale Decomposition, and, fair warning, it is a little gross near the beginning. But mostly it’s not gross and it’s all great.

What happens when a whale dies? For a while, scavengers feast near the ocean surface. Eventually though, still carrying tons of rich organic matter, the whale body sinks. I’d never given a moment’s thought, but where else could it go?

When the carcass settles onto the seabed, it is then called a whale fall. And a whale fall is like the most astonishing fucking thing to happen to a slow and dark energy-starved environment like the deep sea floor. I can’t even imagine, like a Walmart falling from the heavens and slamming into a desert.

And over the next century or so, a procession of ecosystems populate the whale fall. Mobile scavengers like fish and octopuses give way to worms and so on, with each successive ecosystem topped by smaller creatures and lasting a longer time.

Reality is so fucking thick!

I marvel at the depth of the living world!

I shout Structure At All Scales!

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01 Oct 2023
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