Millions of shrimp-like critters called krill have died and washed ashore in northern California, US, last month. Though this krill loss is not expected to impact marine life local communities are asked to watch and report if they notice new stranding.
Scientists are still researching what exactly caused this massive die-off but it is known that it is geographically largest krill die-off on record.
Krill feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton and northwest winds push the, nutrient rich, surface water offshore toward them. The examination showed that the krill were in mating season which would bring them closer to the ocean surface. When winds rapidly changed, which was evident in the buoy data just prior to stranding, it probably caught them unprepared and caused them to ashore. Read PressDemocrat report for more information on locations, statements and theories on past month's krill die-off.
Krill is a general term used to describe about 85 species of open-ocean crustaceans known as euphausiids. They are food for host of ocean species and an important trophic level connection located near the bottom of the food chain.
There is growing concern for the balance of ecosystem if massive fishing of krill and their die-offs continue. The Disaffected Lib blog wrote earlier this year "People of the Pacific northwest know full well that krill are the foundation of our marine food chain... we are all connected. Which is why it was alarming to read in Asia Times Online that giant fishing trawlers from Europe and Asia are now stalking krill in Antarctic waters."