Animals & Wildlife Magazine

NOVA Documentary Examines Declining Krill Populations in the Southern Ocean (VIDEO)

By Garry Rogers @Garry_Rogers

GR: I think that now we are going to start hearing more stories about failing ocean productivity. They appear so vast, but Earth’s oceans are no match for Homo sapiens.

Antarctic Krill_(Euphausia_superba)

Antarctic Krill (Euphausia superba)

NOVA documentary examines declining Krill populations in the Southern Ocean (VIDEO)The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

Krill are small invertebrate shrimp-like crustaceans no bigger than your little finger.  They feed primarily on phytoplankton (i.e. bacterial algae, or cyanobacteria) which bloom in huge numbers particularly in the Southern Ocean waters surrounding Antarctica during summertime.  Together, these organisms form the productive base of a food-chain ecosystem of great diversity and importance.  Many species of whales, seals, penguins and other birds, as well as other marine life in the Antarctic and beyond, are dependent upon the krill for their survival.

But, this ecosystem is beginning to falter and krill populations – along with their predators – are in decline.  The cause appears to be climate change which is shortening the duration of the winter sea ice season that is crucial for the krill’s survival when its phytoplankton food supply isn’t blooming.

Watch the 1 hour video here, from PBS/NOVAMystery Beneath the Ice

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