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Features of Antarctic Krill

line drawing:  krill

Species: Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba)

Classification:
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Crustacea
- Order: Euphausiacea
- Genus: Euphausia

Identification: Look like small prawns, up to 60 mm long, can weigh over a gram as adults, five pairs of swimming legs, large black eyes, occur in vast swarms which can colour the water red.

Distribution: Circum-polar in Antarctic waters. Approximate area of distribution 35 million square kilometres.

Population size: At least 500 million tonnes (~500,000,000, 000,000 individuals).

Life cycle: Probably lives for 5 - 10 years in the wild, becoming mature after two years.

Food: Mainly plants of the plankton.

Major predators: Baleen whales (blue, fin, minke), crabeater seals, fur seals, Adelie and macaroni penguins, petrels, fulmars and shearwaters, squid and fish.

Economic uses: Have been harvested since mid-1970s, current catch is just under 300,000 tonnes per year; major catching nations are Russia, Ukraine and Japan; uses include fish farm feed, domestic animal feed and products for human consumption.


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