Whale Fall: Exploring an Ocean-Floor Ecosystem

by Melissa Stewart (Author) Rob Dunlavey (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
This fascinating nonfiction picture book filled with stunning illustrations details the end of life for a whale, also known as a whale fall, when its body sinks to the ocean floor and becomes an energy-rich food source for organisms living in the deep sea.

When a whale dies, its massive body silently sinks down, down, through the inky darkness, finally coming to rest on the silty seafloor. For the whale, it's the end of a 70-year-long life. But for a little-known community of deep-sea dwellers, it's a new beginning. First come the hungry hagfish, which can smell the whale from miles around. Then the sleeper sharks begin their prowl, feasting on skin and blubber. After about six months, the meat is gone. Year after year, decade after decade, the whale nourishes all kinds of organisms from zombie worms to squat lobsters to deep-sea microbes.

This completely fascinating real-life phenomenon is brought to vivid and poetic life by nonfiction master Melissa Stewart and acclaimed illustrator Rob Dunlavey.
Select format:

Kirkus Reviews

An intriguing and effective look at an unfamiliar world, well suited for reading aloud.

Whale fall is a great book

It helps me learn a lot of stuff and teaches me about whales. Reading it makes me happy and I love whales. When I read it I can see what it is talking about and I can learn from it. Come and read with me it is fun the book is Whale fall.

Melissa Stewart
Melissa Stewart has written more than 200 science books for children, and is a recipient of the Sibert Honor for excellence in nonfiction. In her free time, she and her husband, Gerard, like to hike near their home in Massachusetts, where they're always on the lookout for shapes in nature.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Random House Studio
Publication date
March 14, 2023
BISAC categories
JNF051100 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Science & Nature | Environmental Science & Ecosystems
JNF003150 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Animals | Marine Life
JNF037070 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Science & Nature | Earth Sciences - Water (Oceans, Lakes, Etc.)
Library of Congress categories

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!