Whale Fall, Bryce Kho
Whale Fall


Artist: Bryce Kho
Exhibition: Oceans & Currents
Art Height: 12.0" (30.48 cm)
Art Width: 16.0" (40.64 cm)
Frame Height: 18.0" (45.72 cm)
Frame Width: 22.0" (55.88 cm)
Medium: Ink
Features: Framed
Year: 2021


Whale Fall refers to the creation of a new deep sea floor ecosystem after a whale dies and leaves its carcass behind. The sea floor is typically barren of nutrient rich feeding grounds, but in the event of whale fall sea creatures are provided an extremely important source of food for decades. 

There are several stages within whale fall. Large animals, like sleeper sharks and hagfish are the first to the scene, and tear into the fatty tissue. Depending on the size of the whale, this “mobile scavenger” phase can last up to two years.

The next to arrive are the mussels, clams, and other opportunists who ferociously devour the leftover tissue and clean the carcass down to the bone. The sulfophillic stage begins once the skeleton is all that’s left and the bigger creatures have moved on. Special bacteria that can break down whale bones settle in for a 50 year banquet.

Whale falls create opportunities for critters big and small, and can act as stepping stones between ecosystems in the deep sea. An oasis for animals, mollusks, and bacteria, these whale fall sites support life in the deep sea for up to 75 years.

To learn more about whale fall, visit Oceana.org to see how nature can transform death into a rich source of life for other creatures. Your purchase of this piece contributes 20% to Oceana so they can continue to work to preserve the oceans for all whales and the vast systems of life they support.


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