Sea Spiders

Sea Spiders24″x32″

Sea Spider (two)
cf. Phoxichilidium quadradentatum


Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories, University of Washington
San Juan Island, Washington

Archival Pigment Print

These living stick figures are not spiders at all, despite their name and superficial similarity. Strictly marine, they typically live and feed on sessile invertebrates such as hydroids, soft corals, and sponges, sucking tissues from their prey with tubular snouts. Like seahorses, sea spiders are one of the few animals in which the fathers are responsible for child care: The male collects and fertilizes the eggs from his mate and then carries the developing embryos on special appendages near the head. He holds as many as one thousand young in a ball-shaped mass, bonded to each other and to him by a glue he secretes. Upon hatching, the larvae may cling to their father’s legs for some time before crawling away.