Friday, August 9, 2013

Krill Kill

One of the awesome things about my job is getting to interact with scientists who are working all over Alaska. Barrow is hosting some scientists right now, and they've been kind enough to share some photos taken in July.

nothing says summer like sea ice on the beach!

The researchers witnessed a neat feeding frenzy near Plover Point involving that most ubitquitous of crustaceans: krill!

 check out those chromatophores!

You may remember seeing krill in this post from Antarctica and in this post from the Gulf of Alaska. They are EVERYWHERE! And just about every marine animal seems to benefit from them in one way or another.

krill-filled water

What made this frenzy special was these krill were washing up dead on shore, so the birds were scooping 'em up right by the beach.

"nom nom nom" - Sabine's gull

Why were they washing up dead? Were they poisoned? Was the water hypoxic? No! Let's not sensationalize this, OK people? Since the ice had retreated from this area and the wind was just right, fresh water may have been pushed out from Elson Lagoon around Plover Point and shocked the little marine critters. The birds just happened to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of it!

Plover Point is right on the edge where Elson Lagoon and the Beaufort Sea meet

"I'll take my krill on the rocks, please."

The scientists just happened to be there too for some beach seine surveys. Hooray for great timing!

a beach seine topped by krill as they are washed ashore

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