How do krill grow?

animation: Lisa Roberts
Sydney 2007

sound: Sophie Green
Tasmania 2009

image source: J. A. Kirkwood (1984)
Australian Antarctic Division
Tasmania 2009

words: with So Kawaguchi
Australian Antarctic Division
Tasmania 2009


Krill start to wiggle in the eggs as they aproach closer to hatching.
Their appendages start as stumpy features, all nicely folded and compact.
They hatch from the hind side (their bottom).

So Kawaguchi, Marine Ecologist (Krill)


Scientists at the Australian Antarctic Division
are breeding krill.
They are interested to know many things about them,
including how they respond to increasing levels of C02
that is increasing the acidity of the oceans.



Jaime Gomez-Gutierrez, Photo of a nauplius of the krill Euphausia pacifica hatching, emerging backwards from the egg, in the same way as does the Antarctic krill, Euphausia pacifica.


Early last year (2009), at the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), I saw an unusual sight: the birth of a live Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba.
The newborn appeared on a video screen that projected the view of a camera poised over a petri dish. A tremulous form emerged from its egg with its legs beating furiously!
This event began a continuing conversation with krill research leader, So Kawaguchi.
Back in my Sydney studio, I worked with So’s words and images. He explained (by email) how krill grow, and sent me diagrams by John Kirkwood to work with. I also found data sets online of how krill appendages move (Uwe Kils). Piano music was improvised by an 11 year old friend, Sophie Green.
This is the first of some animations that I am making to more fully describe this elusive and most important creature.
Krill are central to the marine life food web. Their health is endangered as a result of oceans becoming more acidic (as carbon increasingly enters the atmosphere and then dissolves into the water).
A new research project at the AAD is to record changes in normal krill development in increasingly acid water. Next month (June 2010) I return to the AAD krill nursery to find out more about this research.
I will also record So Kawaguchi describe what he has identified as a circling krill mating dance. What a fine gesture of continuity!


For further information about krill,
look up 'Krill' under 'k' in the Antarctic Thesaurus
and see 'krill' in Wikipedia.