29 April 2022

#AntarcticLog: A small piece about a big deal

Posted by Olivia Ambrogio

#AntarcticLog is a series of comics by Karen Romano Young. You can find the originals here.

Here it is, #AntarcticLog #210, a small piece about a big deal — Antarctic krill. #AntarcticLog is just a series of small pieces, but one thing I love about it is that, over the nearly five years that I’ve been doing it, I’ve built up a library to draw on in order to support current ideas.  

Drawing of a krill explaining how one little krill doesn't seem to matter much, but put them all together and they're a crucial part of the Antarctic food chain.

Want to know more about the food chain that krill’s a vital part of?  Here’s a post from my first year of learning, drawing, and writing about Antarctica — a view of the food chain mentioned in the new krill comic. 

Drawing showing water, penguins, seals, and orcas, explaining that a change in sun/temperature would affect krill numbers, which could deplete penguin populations, changing the diets of seal and orca predators

The #AntarcticLog comic series began as a way to tell stories about invisible science — such as the efforts of the Bigelow Lab team with whom I worked at Palmer Station to understand how the phytoplankton Phaeocystis antarctica respond to conditions. 

Drawing of three scientists over a tank that mimics the water movement in the ocean and lets them see how microbial communities respond to changes

That takes care of what krill eats.  But who dines on krill? Here’s a sampling of penguin predators — who, themselves, make a nice pie for somebody else. 

Drawing of four penguins poking out of a pie, each one expressing a desire for food--krill or squid or crab, etc. The text explains that penguins are a critical middle part of the food chain.

Simple science? Sure.  But as vital as krill themselves.  

Karen Romano Young is a writer, artist, deep-sea diver, and polar explorer. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram