National Geographic : 1984 May
Antarctic whales, the shrimp that nourished like the passenger pigeon, the bison, and them are much more numerous than 50 even the great whales themselves-have years ago. Experts calculate that the poten- proved the most susceptible to overexploita tial annual yield of this "unutilized whale tion or outright extinction. food" could exceed the present world har vest of all other edible marine species com- ASPART OF A RECENT intensive inter bined. It is estimated that 50 to 150 million national effort to acquire more knowl metric tons of krill (330 billion pounds!) con- edge about this resource, we embarked ceivably could be taken by humans each from Ushuaia, Argentina, in Decem year, a shrimp cocktail the size of a city block ber 1981, bound for the "whale pastures" of and piled five miles high. the Antarctic seas. Talk of such a vast harvest alarms ma- Our sturdy ship, Hero, a 125-foot wood rine biologists. Many animal resources his- en, sail-equipped trawler, had the world's torically thought inexhaustible-species best Antarctic skipper, Capt. Pieter Lenie.