Sea Spider Facts
- Sea Spider serves as the collective common name of a rather enormous order of marine arthropods, which includes more than 1,300 recognized species.
- Together, the various members of this order occur in virtually every ocean and sea around the world, including those that one might consider inhospitable.
- Although obviously not true spiders, or even arachnids, these remarkable arthropods actually do have more in common with true spiders than other arthropods.
- One particular variety of Sea Spider represents an especially unique case, as it actually eventually evolved into a fully hermaphroditic species.
Sea Spider Physical Description
Given the vast number of types of Sea Spider, physical characteristics quite naturally vary widely. Leg spans range from a minuscule 0.04 in (1 mm) to 2.3 ft (70 cm).
Most varieties possess eight legs, but a few species develop 10 or even 12 appendages. Yet in all known forms, the legs grow extremely long and thin in relation to the body.
Rather interestingly, due to the extremely small size of the body, these remarkable arthropods possess no respiratory system. Instead, oxygen is acquired through diffusion.
Colors and indeed overall physical appearance, aside from the tiny body and long, thin legs, varies quite significantly between the numerous different species.
Sea Spider Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The truly fascinating order of the Sea Spider possesses a completely cosmopolitan distribution, with varying species existing in all oceans and seas throughout the world.
A great majority of species, and indeed individuals, prefer to inhabit relatively shallow regions. However, some species and individuals live as deep as 23,000 ft (7,000 m).
Most species feed primarily as either predators or scavengers. Typical prey consists of sponges, cnidarians, polychaetes, and bryozoans, depending on location.
Except for the one hermaphroditic species, reproduction involves external fertilization of eggs. Interestingly, after these have been laid, only the male cares for the eggs and young.