One of the true unsung heroes of the oceans, Antarctic krill form the base of the incredibly rich Antarctic food chain. What these shrimp-like crustaceans lack in size (they are usually just a few centimeters long), they make up for in sheer abundance. In fact, scientists estimate that in terms of biomass, Antarctic krill are among the most abundant animal species on the planet. Krill play a vital role in feeding many Antarctic inhabitants, such as whales, penguins, seals, seabirds, and squid.
Climate Change Impacts
The survival of Antarctic krill greatly depend on the availability of pack ice. Pack ice provides natural cave-like structures that krill use to hide from predators, especially during their early stages of development. The pack ice also sustains a rich bed of ice algae, which are an important food source for krill. As pack ice steadily melts due to global warming, Antarctic krill are among the first be impacted, causing ripple effects throughout the Antarctic food chain.