Latin name: Pleuragramma antarcticum
Size: 15 -25 cm.
Food: copepods, other zooplankton; krill.
Predators: larger fish, sea birds, penguins, Weddell seal.
Conservation: Gone from the northwest Antarctic Peninsula?.
The Antarctic Silverfish is a small, pelagic fish - about the size of a sardine. While alive it is pink with a silver tint, but after death it turns silver.
They are common all around Antactica, where they live open waters down to about 900m depth. They also live in pack ice, and produce their own anti- freeze to cope with the extreme cold.
Antarctic silver fish feed on krill and zooplankton. Silverfish larvae feed mainly on copepods; the larger adults can take larger prey, and eat a lot of krill.
Silverfish rely on sea ice for part of their life cycle. The ice protects them when the eggs hatch in November. Silverfish larvae may make up as much as 98% of the fish plankton, and provide food for other fish species. The adults are an important source of food for Weddell seals, Adelie and Emperor penguins and flying birds such as skuas, cormorants and cape pigeons.
Antarctic silver fish are the dominant species in the Ross and Weddell seas. Once they were present in huge numbers in all Antarctic waters, but in recent years they seem to have disappeared from the northwestern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. Scientists think this may be related to the reduction in sea ice as a result of global warming.
18 December 2010