Research Article

Marine Biology

, Volume 144, Issue 3, pp 493-502

First online:

Using a high-powered strobe light to increase the catch of Antarctic krill

  • P. H. WiebeAffiliated withWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution Email author 
  • , C. J. AshjianAffiliated withWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • , S. M. GallagerAffiliated withWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • , C. S. DavisAffiliated withWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • , G. L. LawsonAffiliated withWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • , N. J. CopleyAffiliated withWoods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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Adult euphausiids are difficult to capture with the nets typically used by oceanographers due in part to avoidance of the net. A cruise of the Southern Ocean GLOBEC program (NBP0103) in April/May 2001 permitted an evaluation of the efficacy of a high-powered strobe light (150 W) mounted on a 1-m2 multiple opening/closing net and environmental sampling system (MOCNESS) in reducing net avoidance. Three horizontal tows were made in Laubeuf Fjord, Marguerite Bay (western Antarctic Peninsula, 67.89°S; 68.30 W) on 28–29 May in an area that had a high abundance of adult krill (mostly Euphausia superba, Dana and a few E. crystallorophias, Holt and Tattersall). Each tow consisted of a series of paired down and up casts through a set depth interval (e.g. 50–90 m), with each successive net (335 µm mesh) sampling both a down and up cast. The strobe light was either “on” or “off” while each net was open, and when on, the light flashed at 4-s intervals. During a tow, four of the eight nets sampled with the strobe flashing and four sampled with the strobe off, in a random sequence. Total zooplankton displacement volume was significantly higher (P<0.05), on average by a factor of ~1.5, when the strobe light was on. The increased biovolume was due to the enhanced catch (factor of ~2) of adult krill (15–60 mm length). There was no enhanced catch of smaller krill (5–15 mm length: a mixture of E. superba, E. crystallorophias, and Thysanoessa macrura, GO Sars). In addition, the average length of the large krill fraction was not changed substantially with the strobe light on. These results suggest that krill avoidance of nets can be overcome by intense strobe lighting.