Krill, Euphausia superba, are part of the zooplankton in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. Plankton is a name for the many small creatures that exist in huge numbers in the Southern Ocean. Zooplankton are the animal component and phytoplankton the plant component of plankton. Currents at the Antarctic convergence cause massive upwelling of nutrients from cold deep waters, and the seas around the southern continent are extremely rich in life.
Krill are small creatures, about two inches in length and weighing a gram. They potentially can live seven years, but it’s unlikely many do, because krill are what feed the great whales and other marine life. Krill exist in astronomical numbers, with a standing biomass estimated at 379 million tonnes (a tonne is a thousand kilograms, about 2,200 pounds). The standing biomass is the amount existing at the present.
The total amount of krill produced in a year is probably in excess of 500 million tonnes, with half of it eaten by whales and other marine mammals. Perhaps 200,000 tonnes of krill are harvested by people yearly, processed and going into pet food, fish food, and pharmaceuticals.
It’s probable that the amount of krill harvested by humans will sharply increase in the near future.
It is probable that climate change will warm the Southern Ocean, affecting krill. Krill are hugely abundant, but it is difficult to grasp a number like 379 million tonnes. Look at it another way. If you total up the weight of all the seven and a half billion people on Planet Earth, the total would be a bit under 300 million tonnes. These small creatures in the Southern Ocean outweigh humanity by a considerable maring.
Deep knowledge,and happy reading.
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