Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A panoply of Pycnogonid (sea spider) biology from the latest round of Okeanos Explorer

So, after a few days of bad weather, we finally finished this last round of the 2014 Okeanos Explorer's dives into the North Atlantic! 

BUT we were not left high and dry! There was an unusual abundance of GREAT observations! But wow! there were some SPECTACULAR SEA SPIDER aka Pycnogonid biology events seen! Especially on the last few dives.. 

I don't know a lot about pycnogonid biology, but its a pretty sure bet that a lot of what they do is poorly known, especially in deep-sea species. 

Most of the observations below took place below 1000 m, most were probably between 1000 and 2000 m.  Some pretty rarely seen (or maybe first time) sightings. 

Most of these were screen grabs I took.. but my thanks to the Facebook Underwater Screengrab group, Carina Tsottbauer (@CarinaDSLR) and Nicole Morgan (@coralnerd)! for their help! 

1. From Atlantis II Seamount. This Daddy Pycnogonid with a brood clutch of eggs!

2.  From Nantucket Canyon. This pycnogonid with an arcturid isopod on its proboscis (ID thanks to Tammy Horton). Not sure why its there. Possibly food or??

3. From Physalia Seamount! A big sea spider, possibly Colossendeis, caught in the act of extending its proboscis into this large solitary hydroid! Woo! An in situ feeding observation! 

4. From Physalia Seamount, a pycnogonid in this sediment depression! Possibly feeding on a burrowing anemone? 

5. This pycnogonid in Nantucket Canyon hanging out with some single cup corals.. 

6. From McMaster Canyon! A swimming pycnogonid! 
Wow! at first I thought this might be novel.. but thanks to Twitter (@tammy_horton) and quick communication with Tammy Horton, curator of the Discovery collection at Southampton, and deep-sea arthropod biologist extraordinaire! It turns out that there ARE some records of swimming sea spiders in the scientific literature from 1977!! 

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