Pycnogonids are deep-sea animals related to the...

mbari-blog: Pycnogonids are deep-sea animals related to the…

A deep-sea pycnogonid hunches over a pom-pom anemone, with its proboscis inserted into one the anemone’s tentacles.

pycnogonid (sea spider) living parasitically on a midwater jelly (Pandea rubra) at 700 meters (~2,300, feet) below the surface of the Monterey Bay.

A giant sea spider (pycnogonid) walks across the seafloor near a pom-pom anemone, about 3,000 meters below the surface of Monterey Bay.

A pycnogonid observed at a whale fall.

A sea spider (pycnogonid) was found tucked under the bell of a small jelly. Photo by Steve Haddock.


Pycnogonids are deep-sea animals related to the spiders we see on land, so they are often called “sea spiders.” They are fairly common in tide pools, but these intertidal species are typically small and hard to see. In contrast, deep-sea pycnogonids can have long legs that grow to over 50 cm (20 inches) across! 

At least two species of the Colossendeis group have been observed by MBARI remotely operated vehicles deep in Monterey Canyon. These spiders are quite mobile and can walk or swim using their eight legs. Pycnogonids are “suctorial” predators—most species feed by sucking the bodily fluids from other marine animals. They feed primarily on anemones, such as the pom-pom anemone, Liponema sp. 

Sea spiders, or sea VAMPIRES?! 😱🌊🕷🧛

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