Everything has to eat and in Antarctica, krill is the food of choice for many species of whales, seals and penguins. Krill is integral to the overall food chain in the Southern Ocean and may be the most important organism swimming the sea. As the members of the Friedlaender science party work to study whales, they must follow the food chain so their work on the Point Sur has included collecting data on the krill population.
NMFS permit 14097
Krill and ice are tightly coupled. The life cycle of krill is dependent on a successful spawning season. The sea ice delivers protection and provides an environment for them to thrive as juveniles can hang just under the ice and gobble up plenty of phytoplankton throughout autumn and winter.
The krill population is decreasing at a rapid rate and scientists are working to understand the reasons why and the implications this could have on the food chain. The reasons for the decline have not been concluded. However, one thing is clear, seasons with less ice means less krill. Less krill=less food for the masses of species depending on them.