Antarctic Science

Papers—Life Sciences and Oceanography

Consumption of Antarctic krill by Minke whales

A.J. Armstrong a1 and W.R. Siegfried a1
a1 Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, 7700 Rondebosch, South Africa

Article author query
armstrong a   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
siegfried w   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


The consumption of Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) by an “average-sized” (male 6994 kg; female 8249 kg), sexually mature Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) was estimated, from stomach capacity, ingestion rate and respiratory allometry methods. Estimates obtained from the stomach capacity and respiratory allometry methods differed by 17%–23%. An “average-sized” male Minke whale consumes 37.2 t of krill during a 90-day stay, and an “average-sized” female Minke whale consumes 56.2 t of krill during a 120-day stay, in Antarctic waters during the austral summer. It is estimated that the Minke whale population in the Antarctic (60°S and higher) consumes 35.5 × 106 t of krill annually.

(Received April 4 1990)
(Accepted October 22 1990)

Key Words: Ecosystem impact; estimated consumption; krill; Minke whale.