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Krill, Food for the Masses..

by tpastuszek ~ February 19th, 2013. Filed under: The Science.
A close-up of krill after a bongo net tow - photo by Tara Pastuszek

A close-up of krill after a bongo net tow – photo by Tara Pastuszek

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.

The bongo net is deployed and towed behind the Point Sur to collect krill

The bongo net is deployed and towed behind the Point Sur to collect krill

The net tapers and funnels into the "cod end" where the krill are collected - photo by Tara Pastuszek

The net tapers and funnels into the “cod end” where the krill are collected – photo by Tara Pastuszek

NMFS permit 14097

This tow was a good catch filling the cod end to the brim. Krill is being bagged to be measured and processed for data

This tow was a good catch filling the cod end to the brim. Krill is being bagged to be measured and processed for data

Members of the LTER group out of Palmer Station are shown measuring krill

Domi and Kim, Members of the LTER group out of Palmer Station are shown measuring krill

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.

A slide showing the sea ice community in autumn and winter

A slide showing the sea ice community in 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.

 

 

 

 

1 Response to Krill, Food for the Masses..

  1. Marilyn Dion

    Hi all – would it be possible to obtain high resolution files of the photos you have posted on the blog? Here at the SJSU Research Foundation we are preparing our Spring publication and we would love to feature your photos and a description of your trip.

    Thank you so much,

    Marilyn Dion
    Associate Director for Administration
    SJSU Research Foundation

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