Antarctic Krill

By Yasmin

What are Antarctic Krill?

Antarctic Krill is a relation to prawns and yabbies. They are an important sea life food in the Antarctic feeding system. There are 85 species of krill yet only 5 live in the Antarctic waters. They have 30 thousand krill swimming in one group. Scientists estimate that there are 500 million tones of krill in the southern ocean. WOW!

What do they look like?

They have black crystal like eyes with blood orange body. They have a transparent shell which they shed every month. Their shell can protect them from the cold. They look like smaller versions of shrimp and yabbies.

What do they eat?

Antarctic krill eat a type plant called phytoplankton in Summer and Autumn. They eat algae growing under the ice in Winter and Spring. When they eat algae they starve causing them to shrink. They will be smaller then their usual size which is 6cm in length and 2cm to 3cm in height. They might even weight less then their usual weight, 2 grams. They can survive without food for 200 days.

How do they adapt to the Antarctic environment?

They adapt to the environment in a strange way. They stay in the icy waters under the ice until night to avoid predators. They can detect fast moving objects such as Killer Whales. Their predators are seals, whales, seabirds, fish, squid and other large Antarctic animals.

What is their life cycle?

The female lays ten thousand eggs starting a new life cycle. Then they hatch into little babies called nauplii which are tiny. They start feeding when they grow into calyptopis. Then they grow into funcilia which are children. They grow into teenagers called juveniles which means they start moulting. Moulting means to shred skin. They grow to adults which means they start mating. The female lays eggs again causing they life cycle to start again.