Monthly Archives: March 2020

At last… a sea spider!

You can’t beat a good rockpooling session. Last summer I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered a sea spider whilst exploring the Dorset coastline. With a leg span of around 2cm I was pleased I hadn’t overlooked it. This a creature that attained almost mythical status for me as a child. I would look longingly at images of these fascinating invertebrates in marine wildlife books, always hoping I would eventually discover one.

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Also known as as pycnogonids, sea spiders are not spiders at all but marine arthropods. I am prettysure that this is Ammothea hilgendorfi. This species was first observed in the UK in 1978 in Southampton Water and is thought to have been introduced from Japan. However I will seek expert advice to get the ID verified as I can’t claim to be an expert on sea spiders. A map of UK records can be seen here:

Sea Spider (Ammothea hilgendorfi)

This individual was found at low tide amongst some submerged rocks. I photographed it in a small flash setup that I had brought with me for documenting rockpool creatures, basically a glass dish for backlighting and a white perspex tray for white background cutout shots. The sea spider was photographed on location and returned to exactly the spot it was discovered. Despite not having much time I was able to capture a few simple portraits of it. In hindsight I wish I had gone beyond these rather straight forward ‘record’ shots, however I am more than happy to have got something usable. Maybe next time (if there is a next time) I will be able to try some more imaginative. I dearly wish I had had my MP-E 65mm with me, I could just about make out the eyes with the 100mm macro lens…