New research, led by the Australian Antarctic Division, indicates serious challenges facing Antarctic krill – the primary food source for whales, seals and penguins – due to acidification in the Southern Ocean.  The data has been animated by Dr Lisa Roberts of Living Data.

Read the full paper and view Dr Roberts’ animation by scrolling to the foot of the report page at the Australian Antarctic Division site.

Dr So Kawaguchi, lead author and krill biologist, said that Antarctic krill are the keystone species in the Southern Ocean and their fate is closely linked to the entire Antarctic ecosystem.

In the first study of its kind to explore impacts of acidification on Antarctic krill across the whole of the Southern Ocean, scientists paint a grim picture for the future of the species if carbon dioxide, or CO2, emissions are unmitigated. “Now, our latest investigations clearly highlight the likely further impact that ocean acidification will have on these important crustaceans,” Dr Kawaguchi said. “A substantial decline in krill numbers would have disastrous implications not only for the health of the ocean environment but also on the future survival of the mammals and sea birds that rely on them.”


Listen to Robyn Williams speak with Rob King, Marine Research Facility Specialist, Australian Antarctic Division, as he talks about this research:  Food chains at risk as krill threatened by heat and higher acidity.