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The Fate of Human Remains in the Ocean


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On Wednesday, June 28, the US Coast Guard announced that presumably human remains were found among the wreckage of the Titan submarine.

The remains will now be taken by ship to a port in the US, where they will be checked and analyzed.

But what exactly happens to human remains at sea? How long does it take for the body to decompose into water?

What happens to human remains at sea?

In cold water, the action of bacteria, which causes the human body to swell with gases, can be so suppressed that the body remains on the seabed.

After about a week at sea, the skin of the human body absorbs water and sloughs off the underlying tissues, allowing marine life, including fish, crabs and sea lice, to feast on the discarded flesh.

Cold water also contributes to the formation of adipose tissue – a soapy, waxy substance.

Body fat is formed from fat stored in the body and helps protect it from decomposition.

Bodies are found practically intact in water with temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius even after several weeks, and skeletons can be identified after a long period of time, up to five years.

Tropical waters, such as the Arabian Sea, affect the decomposition of the body in different ways, meaning that the body is likely to float to the surface after three to four days, exposing it to seabirds.

Once the bones reach the seabed, they are gradually buried in the sea silt. It can also be divided into months or years, depending on the level of acid in the water.

How long does it take for the body to decompose into water?

Interestingly, immersion of the body in water tends to slow the rate of decomposition of the body, assuming that important factors for wildlife, such as predation by animals or certain microorganisms, are not nearby.

And since the seas and oceans tend to lower a person’s body temperature, bacterial growth slows down, resulting in a slower decomposition process.

However, once an object is removed from water, it may decompose faster than objects submerged in water.

In warm, shallow waters, decomposition is rapid, meaning a carcass can float to the surface in as little as two to three days.

However, because cold water slows the decomposition process, people who drown in deep lakes at depths of 30 meters or more may never resurface because the weight of the water prevents their bodies from rising again.

Source: Daily Mail

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