Cilunculus battenae was found at 388 m depth off northern Norway. It has previously been observed further south, at the Wyville-Thompson ridge (between the Faroe Islands and Shetland) and at the Cape Verde slope (West Africa), from 690 - 1160 m depth. The discovery in the NEZ is the northernmost observation of the species. It was first described as late as 1993, possibly because it is a small species easy to overlook.
- We know relatively little about sea spiders, particularly species from the deep oceans. We are therefore focusing on studying the species composition and the geographic distribution of sea spiders found in the MAREANO material, Arne Hassel, researcher at The Institute of Marine Research, and Halldis Ringvold, Marine Biologist at Akvaplan-Niva as, explain.
There is some disagreement as to how sea spiders should be classified, but for a long time they have been considered arthropods in the class Pycnogonida. They have relatively long legs and small bodies. Unlike spiders that live on land, some of the sea spiders internal organs (such as the digestive tract and reproductive organs) are placed in the legs. Sea spiders are marine animals found in all oceans, and at both poles. Pycnogonida means “with many knees”, and refers to the many leg segments. Sea spiders have four pairs of legs for walking, and their leg span and body length vary greatly. A medium-sized sea spider may have a leg span of 5-7 cm, and large species, can have leg spans of up to 70 cm. The leg span of the largest species found in Norway can reach 25 cm.
- In collaboration with a British expert on sea spiders we have now finished identifying species found, the scientists explain.
They are now going to relate the distribution of sea spiders to environmental conditions such as temperature, depth and sediment.
- We also aim to use nature types in order to describe the pycnogonid habitat preferences, the two scientists explain.