Using small vessels that allow access to shallow areas, the researchers completed the first multi-year survey of the population of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) in coastal waters near Livingston Island.
Antarctic krill are tiny shrimp-like organisms that are harvested for use in aquaculture feed and human dietary supplements.
Between 2000 and 2007, the team examined the abundance and distribution of Antarctic krill in coastal waters within several miles of the shore, and compared their findings with those from off-shore surveys of the western Scotia Sea conducted during the same year.
The survey found that the near-shore waters had less inter-annual variation and higher biomass density than offshore waters.
“Although the spatial area of our near-shore survey is quite small when compared with that of the entire Scotia Sea, the high and stable densities of krill in shallow water may be more important ecologically than the offshore krill,” said lead researcher Dr. Joseph Warren.