University of Phoenix
Environmental Issues and Ethics
April 19, 2011
How humans have affected the Antarctic food web
The purpose of our team paper is to prepare a comprehensive paper on how humans have affected the Antarctic food web. The icy Antarctic water is very deceiving, not only is it home too many sea animals but also in theses icy waters live a multifaceted food web that feeds many animals. The foundation of the food web consists of photosynthetic algae that live in the nutrient rich water. Krill is the major food source for the Baleen whales. Krill are small shrimplike animals that eat the photosynthetic algae found in and around the pack ice. In 1986 there was a global ban that was put on the hunting of the baleen whales that reduced the amount of whales found in the Antarctic waters. The banning the whales created two problems, there were less whales and the population of other animals greatly increased. The whales were the major consumers of the krill. Because the whales were not around to eat the krill other animals, e.g. penguins, seals, squid, and fish were feeding off of the abundance of krill, which in turn increased their population. Biologists are hoping that because commercial whaling has been regulated that the amount of baleen whales will slowly increase so that they can dominate the krill consumption in the food web. Thinning of the ozone layer will also have a long-term effect on the Antarctic food web. Scientists are speculating that the ultraviolet rays penetrating the waters are the cause of the decline in algal production. Global climate change is another way that humans have affected the Antarctic population. As the temperature of the water has warmed there is less pack ice being formed during the winter months. Pack ice is critical for the survival of the krill because the krill feed from the marine algae. If the waters continue to remain warm the result will be less production of algae and less reproduction of krill because they feed off of the algae. Scientist have been able to prove that when the abundance of krill is low it also has a negative effect on the breeding season for the penguins and fur seals because there is not enough krill for them to eat. Commercial fishermen have started to harvest krill to sell to the aquaculture industries, which poses a great danger to the marine animals that feed off of the krill. If there is not enough krill for the animals eat they will eventually die of starvation. There are many stake holders that participate in preserving Antarctica. Here are some of the committees that meet every year, and some of the things they do to help preserve not only Antarctica, but also other areas on our planet earth. The past 15 years, Greenpeace has participated in a campaign for Antarctica to be protected from exploitation. The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition have been trying to preserve Krill, which is a shrimp based organism that most of the marine species survive on. Conservation International’s mission is to preserve the earth for all living creatures. They focus on saving penguins. Oceana looks into taking care of the whales, dolphins, and ocean. The World Wildlife Fund is one of the leading organizations in preserving wildlife. This would include whales, dolphins, polar bears, penguins, and all living creatures that live off of krill. One of their main projects is the oil spill in the gulf. Tasmanian Conservation Trust focuses on preserving the wildlife also. CCAMLR which stands for Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources are involved and dedicated to preserving krill. By preserving krill, they are saving mainly birds, seals, and fish. These are the species that live off of the krill. All of these groups contribute to preserving and the conservation of Antarctica. Without them, I think the ecosystem would disappear quicker....