Thousands of lobster krill swim near the surface of Kaikoura Canyon, a submarine canyon off the coast of New Zealand's South Island.
The lowly krill averages only about two inches in length, but it represents a giant-sized link in the global food chain. These small, shrimp-like crustaceans are essentially the fuel that runs the engine of the Earth’s marine ecosystems.
Krill feed on phytoplankton, microscopic, single-celled plants that drift near the ocean’s surface and live off carbon dioxide and the sun’s rays. They in turn are the main staple in the diets of literally hundreds of different animals, from fish, to birds, to baleen whales.
Simply put, many oceanic life forms depend on krill.
Pink and opaque, Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) are among the largest of the 85 known krill species. Their estimated numbers range from 125 million tons to 6 billion tons in the