Local residents noted a large amount of krill washed up on the beaches and in the water near Petersburg in late March and early April. The small sea creatures often wash up on area beaches at this time of year but mostly in smaller concentrations. Many were asking what causes these krill to wash up on beaches and die out of the water. Alexei Pinchuk of Juneau is a research associate professor with University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. He studies zooplankton, including krill, and says these appear to be a fairly common type called Thysanoessa spinifera. Joe Viechnicki spoke with Pinchuk about these types of wash-up events.
Pinchuk says these krill are an important food for whales, fish and birds. He thinks the large wash-up seen in Petersburg is not a sign of a problem with the population but is evidence of strong productivity in the ocean ecosystem here in Southeast Alaska.