Posted On:December 8th, 2022
King Krill: The Backbone of The Marine Ecosystem
Krill is a common name for any member of the crustacean order Euphausiacea and belongs to the same species class as crabs, lobsters, and crayfish. Similarly, shrimp and woodlice are also a part of the same species. There are over 82 species of krill that can grow up to 6 inches and live up to 10 years. They exist in dense swarms consisting of at least 10,000 krill on average in a single batch over a cubic meter of water.
Krill and Marine Ecosystem
Krill play an important part in the marine ecosystem for all types of marine lives, especially large-sized species. Its placement in the food chain is also important as krill exists on the lower end of the marine system and does not consume other marine life for survival. Instead, it uses algae and other plantations for its food source and can survive well on small intakes of food on average.
Planktons and Krill: Are they the same?
Krill are planktons but not all planktons are krill. Planktons are any small marine organism that cannot swim against the sea current due to its immobility or lack of strength. Therefore, the plankton species are categorized according to their food source. They have two basic groups based on their diet, Phytoplankton and Zooplankton.
Phytoplankton makes their food by photosynthesis or chemosynthesis. However, the other species are heterophobic that consume other organisms to gain energy. Krill are the most important and ecologically significant species because they feed on Phytoplankton.
What Marine Life Consumes Krill?
Krill are food for several marine creatures including whales, penguins, larger fishes as well as the largest animals to exist on the planet i.e., the blue whale.
What’s more interesting is that krill is now becoming a popular and safe food choice for humans as well. It has tons of nutritional benefits including protein, balanced amounts of omega-3, vitamin A iodine, etc.
These krill are harvested for human consumption in large quantities as they are a healthy source of nutrition. The krill is sold for its meat and to prepare krill oil, which has health benefits of its own and is a good alternative to fish oil.
Around 150–200,000tones of krill are harvested during a year, but only a small percentage of this harvest is for human consumption, securing the sustainability of krill as instructed by Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). These krill also have medicinal uses as their enzymes help prepare several medications.
What Makes Them Important?
As discussed earlier, krill play an essential role in sustaining the Antarctic ecosystem as their population is massive. They have a formidable percentage in the ocean.
What’s more, their biomass of just one species in Southern Ocean species, Euphausia Superba, is around 379,000,000 tons. They also help convert primary producers into food sources for species that cannot consume these smaller organisms.
The krill also exercise vertical migration, in which they migrate to the surface of the water in the day and then back to the depths of the ocean at night. This makes them an important food source in the marine ecosystem.
Krill have an essential role in the marine ecosystem for larger and smaller species alike. They are also a popular food source for humans because of their health benefits.
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