Bettina Meyer and her colleagues have some concrete ideas about how the missing data can be collected. Since space and availability for scientific expeditions aboard research ships are limited, scientists could rely on the support of the fishing fleets. Together, these fishing vessels have the potential to collect a substantial amount of krill data which can help close critical knowledge gaps.
New technical options
In addition, new technology may help scientists advance their understanding of krill stocks and their distribution. For example, autonomous underwater gliders, which look like mini gliders with a wingspan of about 1.50 metres, can be equipped with cameras, sensors, and echosounders to search for krill. They can roam the ocean from the surface down to 1000 metres for several months, collecting data on the density and distribution of krill.
Another promising technology are advanced moorings, equipped with arrays of sensors to measure water properties and krill density. These stationary devices can provide important information almost year-round in areas critical to the management of the krill fishery. Even krill predators, the whales, seals or penguins, can be recruited to help using attached camera systems and probes equipped with GPS.
"All of this can provide us with valuable new information for better krill management,” says Bettina Meyer who is convinced by this approach. But in order to cover large areas of the Southern Ocean it is important to coordinate these research efforts internationally: "As a lone warrior, nobody can answer the complex questions of krill research."