Krill or Euphausid Shrimp are vital forage species that are at the very foundation of life in the ocean. Fish, birds, seals, whales and even humans depend on them.
Life in our oceans forms a complex food web that depends on the sun providing energy for photosynthesis by tiny plants called phytoplankton which serve as food for tiny little sea animals called zooplankton. These provide food for larger species … one of which is the wildly prolific and abundant Krill that is vital to larger fish, birds, seals, whales and ultimately man.
The Food Web in the North Atlantic
by Art MacKay
There is a story behind this illustration. The Bay of Fundy and Northern Gulf of Maine are well-known for their biodiversity and richness. During 30 years of work in marine biology in this area, we observed many awesome events … strange underwater creatures, seals, whales, the nearly extinct North Atlantic Right Whale, and the huge masses of krill being fed upon by the creatures of the Bay.
I distinctly remember a particular day.
We were in Head Harbour Passage off Campobello Island and stopped at one large mass of krill that turned the surface red and was being actively fed on by gulls and other seabirds. The water was particularly clear that day and the krill windrowed up against the side of our boat. As we looked down we could see hundreds of herring blasting their way up into the krill in a feeding frenzy and below them large mackerel that were feeding on both the krill and the herring. Below that were the shadows of larger fish that darted up into the mass. These were likely cod and pollack that are common in the Passage. But then it happened … the event that created the memory. A truly huge shadow appeared and moved rapidly through the mass of krill, herring and mackerel. This was a truly large fish … and we were unable to identify it. What was it? A tuna? A shark? Or something else?
We will never know what the huge creature was, but it completed the mental picture I needed to draw the food web illustration in this article which has been used over and over in numerous articles and publications.
Large-scale fishing for krill developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and now occurs only in Antarctic waters and in the seas around Japan. In 1993, two events caused a decline in krill fishing: Russia exited the industry; and the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living … MORE AT …. https://wizzley.com/what-the-heck-is-krill-anyway/