In addition to providing probably the most potent source of omega-3 fats (potent because of the phospholipid structure), krill provide another vital service to Mother Nature. According to an article in this weeks Science section of the New York Times, Krill agitate the various strata of the ocean, bringing rich, oxygen-laden water from below up to rejuvenate the oxygen-depleted surface layer.
The upper-most layer of the ocean receives the benefit of sunlight, and, consequently, is where reside the mass of plankton that, as plants, use the sun as their source of energy. This giant biomass of plankton consume the oxygen in this relatively thin upper layer and would ultimately die were there not a way to bring oxygen-rich water up from below.
Enter our friends the krill.
Krill consume plankton, from which they get their omega-3 fats. As the krill move up from below to feed on their plankton banquet, they bring with them oxygenated water.
As the scientist quoted in the Times article puts it
“It’s not as if the water is boiling,” Dr. Dower said. “It’s not like you’ve put it in a blender.” But because it occurs over a large area and the background level is so low, it’s a large addition of turbulence. “It may represent a previously unrecognized way to get a pulse of nutrients into the surface layer.”
“The novelty here,” Dr. Dower added, “is this is biology acting on the physics of the ocean, instead of the other way around.”
Please don’t write and ask me if I’m worried that consuming krill oil will lead to significant reductions in the agitation of the oceans layers and the depletion of oxygen from the surface layer, the consequent death of the plankton and a major blow to life on earth as we know it, because I don’t know. And at this time, given the size of the enormous mass of krill relative to the tiny amounts harvested for their oil, I’m not really worried about it.