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Antarctic krill

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Antarctic krill
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Euphausiacea
Family: Euphausiidae
Genus: Euphausia
Species: E. superba
Binomial name
Euphausia superba
Dana, 1850

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is a species of krill that lives in the Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean. They are shrimp-like and belong to the invertebrates.

They live in large schools, called swarms. Sometimes these swarms have a density of 10,000–30,000 individual animals per cubic meter.[1]

They feed directly on very small phytoplankton, so they can use the energy that the phytoplankton originally got from the sun in order to sustain their life in the open ocean.[2] They grow to a length of 6 cm, weigh up to 2 g, and can live for up to six years. They are a key species in the Antarctic ecosystem and are, in terms of biomass, probably the most successful animal species on the planet (approximately 500 million tonnes).[3]

In aquaria, krill have been observed to eat each other.


  1. Hamner, W. M., Hamner, P. P., Strand, S. W., Gilmer, R. W. (1983). "Behavior of Antarctic Krill, Euphausia superba: Chemoreception, Feeding, Schooling and Molting". 'Science' 220: 433–435.
  2. Kils, U., Klages, N (1979). "Der Krill". Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau 10: 397–402.
  3. Nicol, S., Endo, Y. (1997). Fisheries Technical Paper 367: Krill Fisheries of the World. FAO.

Further reading

  • Hempel, G.: The krill-dominated pelagic system of the Southern Ocean. Envir. Inter. 13, pp. 33 – 36; 1987.
  • Hempel, G.: Life in the Antarctic sea ice zone. Polar Record 27(162); pp. 249 – 253; 1991
  • Hempel, G.; Sherman, K.: Large marine ecosystems of the world: trends in exploitation, protection, and research. Elsevier, Amsterdam: Large marine ecosystems 12, 423 pp; 2003
  • Nicol, S. & de la Mare, W. K. Ecosystem management and the Antarctic krill. American Scientist 81 (No. 1), pp. 36–47. Biol 9:129–135; 1993.
  • Nicol, S.; Foster, J.: Recent trends in the fishery for Antarctic krill, Aquat. Living Resour. 16, pp. 42 – 45; 2003.
  • Sahrhage, D.: Antarctic Krill Fisheries: Potential Resources and Ecological Concerns. In Caddy, J. F. (ed.): Marine Invertebrate Fisheries; their assessment and management; pp. 13 – 33. Wiley, 1989.
  • Ikeda, T. (1984) The influence of feeding on the metabolic activity of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba Dana). Polar Biology 3(1)
  • Clarke, A. (1983) Towards an energy budget for krill: The physiology and biochemistry of Euphausia superba Dana. Polar Biology 2(2)

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