Krill Facts ~ Krill FAQ & Pictures

by Bob

in Sea Life

Krill are small shrimplike creatures that inhabit all the world’s oceans. They are the primary food source for many types of fish, baleen whales and birds.

Antarctic Krill

Antarctic Krill

Here are some krill facts:

What is the definition of krill?
noun, plural krill.

  1. a small marine crustacean of the open seas. It is eaten by a number of larger animals, notably the baleen whales.

Why are krill so important in the food chain?
They are near the bottom of the food chain and are an important dietary staple for hundreds of animals. They feed on the plants that larger animals cannot eat. So, in essence, they convert plant matter such as algae into an edible food source for animals farther up the food chain. Algae, in turn, convert sunlight and CO2 into an edible form suitable for krill.

How many types (species) of krill are there?
85. There are 2 families of krill that make up the 85 species:

  • Deep sea krill~family:Bentheuphausiidae– Only 1 species of krill. Reside in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans in latitudes south of the 40th parallel north , which crosses through Philadelphia Pa. in the U.S. They live in deep waters below 3,000 feet.
  • Krill~family: Euphausiaceainclude- Include the other 84 species of krill. They are found worldwide and tend to live close to the surface.

What is the size of krill?
They average 2 1/2 inches long and weigh 2 grams.

What is the largest species of krill?
Thysanopoda spinicauda- can grow to 6 inches.

What is the most abundant species of krill?
The Antarctic krill. The total weight of the entire population of Antarctic krill weighs more than the total weight of any other animal species on earth. Their swarms can be seen from space and can cover hundreds of square miles.  They are the primary food source of the blue whale.

Scientist studying krill. Antarctic Peninsula.

Scientist studying Antarctic krill. Antarctic Peninsula.

How long do krill live?
They average 6 years but can live up to 10 years.

What do krill eat?
Phytoplankton- microalgae that make up the bottom rung of the food chain. Antarctic krill also eat under ice algae as shown:

Krill feeding on under ice algae

This image, taken by a remote operated underwater vehicle (or ROV), shows how most krill feed by swimming upside-down directly under the ice, grazing as they go. A single krill can clear one square foot of ice algae in approximately 10 minutes. Photo by Uwe Kils.

How do krill catch food?
Krill are primarily vegetarians (herbivores), filtering the surrounding water for microalgae with a tiny basket formed by their legs. Antarctic krill also use tiny rasps attached to their legs to scrape algae attached to the bottom of ice. One species of  krill is carnivorous, primarily feeding on fish larvae and zooplankton.

Do krill have any predators?
Yes, They are the primary prey of baleen whales, penguins, squid, many fish and seals.

What animals feed on krill?
Baleen whales, birds, fish, squid and seals.

What is a krill swarm?
A large krill gathering of such magnitude that, at times, can be seen from space. Adults will create swarms while juveniles will create denser superswarms. Swarms are primarily defensive mechanisms used to confuse prey that seek out single krill. Swarming is of great benefit to baleen whales which can ingest 4 tons of krill with every mouthful.

Are female krill larger than the males?

How fast can krill swim?
2-3 body lengths per second.

Are krill endangered?
Antarctic krill is the most abundant species of krill and is classified as least concern. Other species of krill are not classified.

What is the weight of the entire mass of Antarctic krill?
500 million tons. Twice that of the entire human population.

Can krill be kept as pets?
Yes, but they are mainly used as food for existing pet fish. Both fresh and freeze-dried krill are used for this purpose.

What is krill oil?
Each krill contains a tiny amount of oil that is purported to have health benefits due to its Omega 3 fatty acid content.. Krill is harvested with large nets then processed into krill meal and frozen. Solvents are then used to extract the oil, which is then processed and sold as a health supplement mainly for the cardiovascular system.

Krill oil vs fish oil. Which is better?
Fish oil supplements are no longer recommended as proof of its efficacy is lacking and an increase in prostate cancer among users has been observed. 12.
Eat walnuts, flaxseed or fish to obtain needed Omega 3 fatty acids.
Krill oil has similar health claims as fish oil.

is krill edible-What is a sea krill-facts and photo of krill-

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