Antarctic Ecosystem: Food Chain

Antarctic Summer Ecosystem interactive spacer
Antarctic Winter Ecosystem Interactive

Antarctic seas are extremely productive because phytoplankton grows abundantly during the extended daylight of summer and feeds huge populations of krill. Krill, shrimplike crustaceans, are a key animal in this ecosystem, as food for top predators: whales, penguins, and seals. Soft transparent animals called salps also feed on phytoplankton in summer, and form huge swarms that may sometimes replace krill. Winters have little light, no phytoplankton growth, and extremely cold temperatures, but a complex food web links a great variety of ocean animals.

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