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Populations of krill, the cornerstone of the Antarctic ecosystem, are dwindling dangerously. In the middle of the austral winter, a team of scientists has launched an unprecedented expedition to determine why.
The finger-sized, shrimp-like crustacean is the key link in the Southern Ocean food chain. All life in the Antarctic depends on the species, which is the planet’s most abundant. But for the last thirty years, its figures have been declining dramatically, threatening life throughout Antarctica, for which it is a food source.
What is causing this worrying depletion? To find out, a group of leading experts on the biology of the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean are taking part in an unprecedented scientific expedition on board the Polarstern, an icebreaker capable of cutting through the thick Antarctic ice. The aim of their research is to further an understanding of the links between the tiny crustacean and the vast expanse of ice, and to assess the density of krill populations living in these seas in winter.
If the krill were to die out, many species would disappear along with it, including whales, seals, penguins. A drop in phytoplankton levels would endanger the entire Antarctic ecosystem.
2015 : Best Science & Nature Program at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival - JHWFF (Jackson Hole, WY, USA)