Krill in New Zealand's Marlborough Sounds

a small boat passes through clouds of orange krill

It seems that I wasn't the only one who was amazed by the totally unexpected sight of swarms of brightly coloured krill at the innermost ends of New Zealand's Marlborough Sounds, an area of flooded valleys which stretch for 10 or 15 kilometers inland from the open sea.

In case your childhood biology classes are a distant memory, krill are the small crustaceans which make up the bulk of the diet of several species of whales, as well as various maritime birds who flock to the coastlines of the South Island to take part in the feast.

photo of hundreds of krill on the surface of the water

It doesn't sound too exciting, but then who could have imagined that krill could form such strange swirling patterns,
like some sort of strange impressionistic painting?

swirling groups of krill

But I didn't want to just take photos from above water, I wanted to jump in and get some photos of them underwater, too.

After a few minutes of swimming aimlessly through the gloomy green depths, something emerged out of the haze...

a school of krill underwater in the distance

...bunched up, unsure what to do...

krill bunched up together

...they decide that it's time to say "goodbye"...

the last straggling krill say goodbye