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Antarctic Krill — Changing Perceptions of Its Role in the Antarctic Ecosystem

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Antarctic Science

Abstract

The stature of Antarctic krill within the Antarctic ecosystem is reflected in their scientific name — Euphausia superba, however, they have been called a variety of other terms most of which are somewhat inaccurate. The word krill, itself, is a misnomer since it is derived from the word kril which refers to small fish in Norwegian. This term was then used by North Atlantic whalers to describe the crustaceans found in the stomachs of baleen whales and so has been adopted as a general term for the 85 or so species of euphausiid. Various species of krill have been referred to as: squillae, small red insects, animalcules, pelagic prawns, opposum shrimps and skeleton shrimps, but perhaps the most often used phrase to describe Antarctic krill is “tiny shrimp-like crustaceans”. This phrase is misleading since Antarctic krill are by no means tiny, either considered as crustaceans or as animals in general (Fig. 1). An animal which weighs 1 g as an adult is a medium-sized animal and its size actually makes krill quite large for a crustacean. This is not necessarily a trivial point since there appears to be a direct relationship between the size of an animal and the conservation efforts that are expended on its behalf.

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Nicol, S. (1994). Antarctic Krill — Changing Perceptions of Its Role in the Antarctic Ecosystem. In: Hempel, G. (eds) Antarctic Science. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-78711-9_11

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-78711-9_11

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