Euphausia superba. A fascinating name for a fascinating little creature – the Antarctic krill. It’s one of the 85 species of krill that live in the Southern Ocean. Flocking together in huge swarms, krill are considered to be the largest marine biomass in the world.
You probably know what makes krill special. They are crustaceans, with an average size of about 3.5 cm in length – about the size of an ordinary paperclip. They can reach lengths of double that size, up to 6 cm.
Krill are high in omega-3, which is an important nutrient for heart health, amongst many others. What’s more, krill oil naturally contains phospholipids, astaxanthin and choline – an essential nutrient that has many benefits for your health.
But do you know what makes krill truly unique?
Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about these tiny shrimp-like creatures.
1) Krill can be seen from space!
They may be smaller in size than your pinky, but when they congregate, they are humongous! Actually, if you happen to go to space, you can spot them. They travel in swarms that are are so dense they have been viewed high up above our earth's atmosphere. When close to the water’s surface, they even give the ocean’s surface a pinkish red hue.
2) Krill grow and shrink throughout their life
Krill have the ability to shrink their bodies and undergo long periods of starvation. These adaptations, occurring several times throughout their lifetime, allow them to survive the winter months in the Antarctic.
To accommodate this drastic change in size, krill shed their shell every 13–20 days to make room for their extra bodies, or to fit into their smaller suits!
This is why it is impossible to tell the age of a krill by the size of its body. So how can we know its age? Read on!
3) How do we measure the age of a krill?
One of the distinct features of krill, is their big, black, round beady eyes. This is the tell-tale sign of their age. The human ear and nose tend to grow with age. Krill, however, get bigger eyes. This is because their eyes do not follow the same patterns of growth and shrinkage as their bodies, so they grow throughout their lifecycle.
When we want to measure the age of a tree, we count its growth rings. In order to measure the age of a krill, we use a similar method: We count the number of rings on the eyestalk, which gives an approximation of the amount of years the krill has lived.
4) Krill like it dark when breeding
When it comes to reproduction, Antarctic krill like the lights off. They dive deep down to depths of 3000 metres to lay their eggs directly in open water.
Female krill can lay up to 10,000 eggs per day! The larvae hatch and rise slowly towards the surface and on the way they develop and mature into adult krill.
5) Hate fishy burps? Then krill oil is your thing
“Fish burps”. Not only are they uncomfortable, they’re a reason many people stop taking omega-3 supplements – or hesitate to try them in the first place.
With many marine omega-3 supplements, the omega-3s are bound to triglycerides. This makes the oil sit on top of the stomach, causing digestive discomfort and, yes… fishy burps.
Krill contain phospholipid-bound omega-3s. These phospholipids actually allow krill oil to mix well with the food and juices in the stomach, so you do not get reflux and other unpleasant digestive issues when using a krill oil omega-3 supplement.