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…



2 thoughts on “At last… a sea spider!

  1. Pamela S Gray

    Hey Alex, I was trying to locate Alex Petrie (I met on the Borneo trip, and we’re Facebook Friends) and for some reason, your blog popped up! You lucky dog! I have never seen a pycnogonid and also always wanted to. I used to spend hours wading around in Washington tidepools (when I was nimble enough not to break my head when I slipped), and found many rare species, but never a pycnogonid. You probably don’t remember me. I went to Borneo and S. Georgia with you and really got a kick out of you. I thought if I was a lot younger, and male, I would love to be you, haha. You’re my kind of human: smart, interested in what I love, and enthusiastic! I hope things are going well with you, and COVID hasn’t hurt anyone you care about. I’m busy these days transforming my yard into a “pocket prairie” to boost insect and bird species, as well as planting native bushes and trees and understory stuff. I got a deer fence so they can’t eat everything anymore. Merry Christmas! So fun to have your blog pop up on my computer mysteriously.

    1. alexhydephoto Post author

      Hi Pam, it’s great to hear from you and thank you for your kind words. I certainly remember you from Borneo and SG, seems like another world now. Your yard rewinding sounds super to me, I have started doing a similar thing. Keep in touch and I hope our paths cross again before too long. Alex


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