Decades of Dinner

Underwater community begins with the remains of a whale

By Susan Milius, 15:52 PM April 15, 2008

Oceanographer Craig Smith remembers standing on the deck of a research ship in 1987, amazed at what two grad students had brought up from the deep. The team was nearing the end of a research cruise off the coast of California, and the students had taken the submersible Alvin down 1,200 meters for a final dive along a familiar route. While the craft was being hoisted back on deck, Smith glanced into its basket of collected samples.

"I could see big bones," Smith says. One bone, curved like a r...

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