Diving Spiders

Humans are curious creatures who do curious things, but we are not the only creatures who enjoy diving underwater.  In a new series I’m going to discuss the other creatures who share our desire or passion to dive.

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Beginning this series with an unlikely candidate, a spider who spends most of its life underwater: Argyroneta aquatica

This spider breathes air like us, but builds a “diving bell” of sorts (in shape it resembles a diving bell), out of silk and submerges underwater in still lakes or slow moving streams.

But what’s underwater for a spider? Unclaimed hunting territory of course, including mosquito larvae, as well as protection from standard predators like birds.  Although being underwater places them at risk for new predators, including frogs and fish.

The spiders can leave their bells to hunt, and return to breath.

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Copyright Getty Images/Colin Milkins

Unlike SCUBA divers, Diving Bell Spiders only need to surface once a day to refresh their air supply, because it turns out that their diving bell acts like a gill, and is able to extract oxygen from the water around it. Even more exciting is that, also unlike divers, the spider breaths the oxygen from the air in the bell, and instead of dealing with CO2 becoming built up in their body  or bell, the carbon dioxide is dispersed through the bell into the surrounding water.

This leaves the leftover component of air (minus Oxygen),  nitrogen to build up in the bell as the spider breaths through his or her oxygen supply. The nitrogen slowly leaks out from the bottom of the bell, causing the it to shrink throughout the day. Once it’s gone- time to surface.  At least for a moment.

What a curious spider.

-xmerbabe

with information from the BBC.