Giant sea spider

(Colossendeis sp.)

Eight long and lanky legs make it easy to move along the deep seafloor.

Like spiders on land, sea spiders—also known as pycnogonids—come in a range of sizes and appearances. They’re widespread and occur across a variety of ocean environments. The deep sea is home to the giant sea spider (Colossendeis sp.), which can grow larger than a dinner plate. This spindly spider lumbers along the seafloor on jointed, stilt-like legs.

Instead of spinning a delicate web of silk to trap prey, a giant sea spider uses an elongate, tube-like proboscis to slurp up its prey. While studying the unique communities that form around decomposing whale carcasses on the deep seafloor, MBARI researchers observed a giant sea spider crouched over and clinging to the fleshy tentacle of a pom-pom anemone (Liponema brevicorne). Upon closer inspection, the sea spider was actually sucking out the juices inside the tentacle. Another sea spider was even observed clipping a couple of tentacles and taking its dinner to go!

Fast Facts

Maximum size: 51 centimeters (20 inches) across

Depth: 2,200-4,000 meters (7,200–13,100 feet)

Habitat: seafloor

Range: worldwide

Diet: sea anemones, hydroids, jellies, and other invertebrates

Gallery

Research publications

Braby, C.E., V.B. Pearse, B.A. Bain, and R.C. Vrijenhoek (2009). Pycnogonid-cnidarian trophic interactions in the deep Monterey Submarine Canyon. Invertebrate Biology, 128: 359-363. dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-7410.2009.00176.x

Lundsten, L., K.L. Schlining, K. Frasier, S.B. Johnson, L.A. Kuhnz, J.B.J. Harvey, G. Clague, and R.C. Vrijenhoek (2010). Time-series analysis of six whale-fall communities in Monterey Canyon, California, USA. Deep-Sea Research I, 57(12): 1573-1584. doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2010.09.003

Products

Data repository
Data policy
Deep-Sea Guide
What is happening in Monterey Bay today?
Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System
Chemical data
Ocean float data
Slough data
Mooring ISUS measurements
Southern Ocean Data
Mooring data
M1 Mooring Summary Data
M1 Asimet
M1 download Info
M1 EMeter
Molecular and genomics data
ESP Web Portal
Seafloor mapping
Soundscape Listening Room
Upper ocean data
Spatial Temporal Oceanographic Query System (STOQS) Data
Image gallery
Video library
Creature feature
Deep-sea wallpapers
Seminars
Previous seminars
David Packard Distinguished Lecturers
Research software
Video Annotation and Reference System
System overview
Data Use Policy
Knowledgebase
Annotation
Video Tape User Guide
Video File User Guide
Annotation Glossary
Query Interface
Basic User Guide
Advanced User Guide
Results
Query Glossary
FAQ
VARS publications
VARS datasets used in publications
Oceanographic Decision Support System
MB-System seafloor mapping software
How to download and install MB-System
MB-System Documentation
MB-System Announcements
MB-System Announcements (Archive)
MB-System FAQ
MB-System Discussion Lists
MB-System YouTube Tutorials
Matlab scripts: Linear regressions
Introduction to Model I and Model II linear regressions
A brief history of Model II regression analysis
Index of downloadable files
Summary of modifications
Regression rules of thumb
Results for Model I and Model II regressions
Graphs of the Model I and Model II regressions
Which regression: Model I or Model II?
Matlab scripts: Oceanographic calculations
Matlab scripts: Sound velocity
Visual Basic for Excel: Oceanographic calculations
Educational resources
Navigating STEM careers
MBARI Summer Internship Program
2017 Summer Interns Blog
Education and Research: Testing Hypotheses (EARTH)
EARTH workshops
2016—New Brunswick, NJ
2015—Newport, Oregon
2016 Satellite workshop—Pensacola, FL
2016 Satellite workshop—Beaufort, NC
EARTH resources
EARTH lesson plans
Lesson plans—published
Lesson plans—development
Lesson drafts—2015
Lesson drafts—2016 Pensacola
Adopt-A-Float Program
Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) Science Kits
Science at home: Curriculum and resources
Publications
Sample archive
SciComm Resources