Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Krill Discovered Living In The Antarctic Abyss

Date:
February 26, 2008
Source:
British Antarctic Survey
Summary:
Scientists have discovered Antarctic krill living and feeding down to depths of 3000 meters in the waters around the Antarctic Peninsula. Until now this shrimp-like crustacean was thought to live only in the upper ocean. The discovery completely changes scientists' understanding of the major food source for fish, squid, penguins, seals and whales.

Female Antarctic krill. Krill have been found living and feeding down to depths of 3,000 meters.
Credit: Image courtesy of British Antarctic Survey

Scientists have discovered Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) living and feeding down to depths of 3000 metres in the waters around the Antarctic Peninsula. Until now this shrimp-like crustacean was thought to live only in the upper ocean. The discovery completely changes scientists' understanding of the major food source for fish, squid, penguins, seals and whales.

Reporting recently in Current Biology, scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton* (NOCS) describe how they used a deep-diving, remotely operated vehicle (RoV ) known as the Isis to film previously unknown behaviour of krill.

Professor Andrew Clarke of the British Antarctic Survey said, "While most krill make their living in the ocean's surface waters, the new findings revise significantly our understanding of the depth distribution and ecology of Antarctic krill. It was a surprise to observe actively-feeding adult krill, including females that were apparently ready to spawn, close to the seabed in deep water."

Scientists have been studying krill since the 'Discovery' expeditions of the early 20th century. Oceanographic expeditions, using a combination of echo-sound techniques and collection samples in nets, indicated that the bulk of the population of adult krill is typically confined to the top 150 metres of the water column.

The grant to purchase the Isis RoV was led by Professor Paul A Tyler of NOCS. He says,"Having the ability to use a deep-water ROV in Antarctica gave us a unique opportunity to observe the krill and also to observe the diversity of animals living at the deep-sea floor from depths of 500m down to 3500m. The importance of such observations is that, not only do we have the ability to identify species, but we can see the relations among individual species and their relationship to the ambient environment."

The discovery holds some important lessons, Clarke continued. "The behaviour of marine organisms - even quite 'primitive' ones - can be complex and more varied than we usually assume. There is still a great deal to learn about the deep sea and an important role for exploration in our attempts to understand the world we live in."

About Antarctic krill

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), feed on phytoplankton and are in turn eaten by a wide range of animals including fish, penguins, seals and whales. Phytoplankon are the starting point for the marine food chain and use photosynthesis to extract carbon from carbon dioxide.

Krill live in the open ocean, mainly in large swarms and reach particularly high numbers in Antarctica. Antarctic krill can grow up to a length of 6cm and can live for 5-6 years. They are one of the largest protein resources on Earth and can be fished easily with large nets for human consumption. The total weight of Antarctic krill is calculated between 50-150 million tonnes.

Numbers of Antarctic krill appear to have dropped by about 80% since the 1970s. The most likely explanation is a dramatic decline in winter sea-ice. Krill feed on the algae found under the surface of the sea-ice, which acts as a kind of 'nursery'. The Antarctic Peninsula, a key breeding ground for the krill, has warmed by 2.5C in the last 50 years, with a striking decrease in sea-ice. It is not fully understood how the loss of sea-ice there is connected to the warming, but could be behind the decline in krill.

The article, "Antarctic krill feeding at abyssal depths" by Andrew Clarke and Paul Tyler is published in Current Biology the week of February 25, 2008.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by British Antarctic Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

British Antarctic Survey. "Krill Discovered Living In The Antarctic Abyss." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080225122334.htm>.
British Antarctic Survey. (2008, February 26). Krill Discovered Living In The Antarctic Abyss. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080225122334.htm
British Antarctic Survey. "Krill Discovered Living In The Antarctic Abyss." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080225122334.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins