When a whale dies in the ocean, its body will slowly sink into the ocean floor and form a unique ecosystem in the process. Biologists have given this tragic process a poetic name: Whale Fall
In 1998, researchers at the University of Hawaii found that in the deep seas of the North Pacific, at least 43 species of 12,490 organisms depended on whales to survive. Some of these marine organisms—including the rare species of crickets, worms, and blind shrimps—will eat the residue a little bit next to the body. These whales are self-supporting, meaning that they can produce their own food through chemical reactions. In addition to not needing to obtain sunlight (because sunlight cannot pass through deep water), it is self-supporting and similar to plant photosynthesis.
Investigating the phenomenon of this novel ecosystem, scientists have found that bacteria eat the bones of whales, which contain 60% fat. The bacteria then make hydrogen sulfide, a chemical that smells like a rotten egg. Thousands of chemical autotrophic marine organisms convert hydrogen sulfide into energy for their growth and reproduction.