4 December, 2000
I am now the mighty Krill hunter. Dan, Stephanie and myself headed out in a zodiac on Sunday to hunt the elusive krill (euphausia superba). To some people they resemble a shrimp. What we were trying to do is capture the krill without hurting them. The zodiac that we took is specially equipped to hunt and trap krill. It has built in low frequency fish finder for finding the krill at different depths along with a GPS (Global Positioning System) and a krill net. The opening of the net is a meter across and is about four meters long. It narrow towards the end where there is a large bottle to hold the krill. The net is a fine mesh so the krill won't be hurt during capture.
Every step of the process is logged in notes to include location, depth of the water, length of time that the net is in the water, weather information and notes. Last year they had trouble catching krill. There was a shortage in the immediate area. Krill are a very important part of the food chain. Krill eat phytoplankton. So they are considered the grazers and the phytoplankton are the producers. The predators of krill are numerous. Petrals, terns, penguins (all varieties in the area), Crabeater seals, Leopard seals, squid, fish and whales to mention a few. So krill are very important link in the food chain.
We were traveling slowly in the zodiac waiting for a signal from our sonar to help us locate our prey. About ten minutes we had a signal. We lowered the net to about 20 meters and circled the area. When we brought the net in we had about 8 larvae krill. A larval krill is not fully-grown yet. Since this haul was less than expected we decide to try a different location. As we were leaving Arthur Harbour we detected a large school of krill about 40 meters deep. We dropped in the net and hauled in about 30 adults. We tossed in our net three more times and collected enough specimens. We returned to Palmer as mighty krill hunters.
The krill were placed in a water cooler with seawater to keep them cold. The krill species off the Antarctic Peninsula like the water to hover around zero degrees Celsius. Once back on station the krill were measured and placed in glass jars to watch their growth.
Today we had to scrub the zodiac ride out to station E. It was to windy, so its on the schedule for tomorrow. So stay tuned for tomorrows exciting episode. Also I will be posting the answers to several questions from Mrs. Smith's class in Santa Barbara, California.
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