Environment License to krill: WA hotspot good news for ocean dwellers

License to krill: WA hotspot good news for ocean dwellers

The waters off Western Australia are home to 40 per cent of the world’s krill species, a Murdoch University research project has revealed.

PhD student Dr Alicia Sutton spent four years studying the krill populations and their marine environments between the Kimberley and Cape Leeuwin.

“People are usually surprised to learn that krill occur right off Western Australia. They automatically associate krill with the Antarctic krill,” Dr Sutton said.

“The interesting thing about the krill populations off the coast of Western Australia is that we see a mix of species usually found in temperate, sub-tropical or tropical waters.”

Dr Sutton said she found 34 of the world’s 86 krill species off the coast of WA during her project including five species that had never previously been recorded in the south-east Indian Ocean.

“The biodiversity and abundance of krill is important because they are an important food source for commercially important fishes, seabirds, whale sharks, rays and baleen whales,” Dr Sutton said.

“Examining this food web more closely could teach us more about charismatic megafauna like pygmy blue whales or commercially important fishes like southern blue fin tuna that migrate along the WA coast.”

Read more about the methodology and findings of this study here. Story credit: Murdoch University newsroom. Photo by Use Kils used under creative commons.

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