At the time of the discovery, the research team was looking for hydrothermal vents known as black smokers, where superheated mineral-rich water is ejected from the seafloor. Finding the remains of a whale, known as a whale fall, is rare.
"You could never hope to find a whale fall on purpose - it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack," Linse said in a statement. "It gave us a rare opportunity to look at the ecology of these unique habitats, and which sorts of species settle on them."
In fact, just last year, in May, scientists reported the first known whale fall from Antarctica. A team found the bones of a southern minke whale covered in a trove of life forms, ranging from sea snails to isopods to worms.
When minke whales die, they sink to the seafloor, where they provide hideouts and nutrients for sea life. Although their flesh decomposes and disappears shortly thereafter, whale bones can last for up to 100 years, providing habitat and food for various life forms, including bacteria; mouthless, eyeless zombie worms; sea anemone and other bizarre creatures.