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Image of our virtual MICROSCOPE project of Euphausia superba in textbook

Nature of Biology

Book 1

Judith Kinnear and Marjory Martin

John Wiley & Sons

Milton - Australia - 2000

page 127 of 545

ISBN 00701634367

page 127 and cover of the book used here with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Nov. 19 2002, Julie Barnett, Manager, Contracts and Licensing 

Figure 5.3 Magnified image of the bristles on the feeding limbs of krill. The gap between sub-bristles is about 12 micrometer.

The term "krill" is Norwegian for "whale food" and refers to a group of more than 80 species of shrimp-like organisms whose habitats are tropical, temperate and polar oceans of this planet. Antarctic krill are the most numerous of all krill species. Antarctic female krill spawn twice a year, on each occasion producing several thousands eggs that fall to the sea bed where they hatch. Is krill an example of an r-selected species? (Clue: see Chapter 4, page 111)


Other animals also feed on the krill swarm. Crab-eater seals (Lobodon carcinphagus) sieve krill from the water through their multi-lobed teeth (see figure 4.5 on page 128).(In spite of their name, they do not eat crabs, but feed mainly on krill). The adult crab-eater seals that feed on krill are survivors of a much larger group of crab-eater pubs whose number were reduced in part by feeding activities of hunters, such as leopard seals and killer whales (Orcinus orca).

The krill swarm re-aggregates after the attack by the Adeli penguins. It now becomes the subject of massive feeding activity by a pod of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) that circle the dense krill swarm at depth and then rise vertically through it, with open mouths, engulfing quantities of krill-rich water from which they filter the krill.

The krill swarm continues to feed on phytoplankton. At the same time, the krill becomes food for other animals, including various species of squid and fish. The squid, in turn, become food for flying birds (albatrosses, petrels), penguins and species of toothed whales. The fish are hunted by various seals - the Wedell seal (Leptonchotes wedellii), the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), the Ross seal (Ommatophoca rossii) and the Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella).

Krill are not distributed evenly in the Antarctic waters and their distribution and density vary in different locations, as shown in figure 5.5 on page 128. In spite of the feeding activities of so many hunters, the krill population over time is largely unaffected because of its high reproductive rate.

copyright image Uwe Kils


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