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Franz Josef Land Expediton: Ice and Giant Sea Spiders

The giant sea spider Anomorhynchus smithii, a species described for the first time in Franz Josef Land in 1881. Photo by Enric Sala.
The giant sea spider Anomorhynchus smithii, a species described for the first time in Franz Josef Land in 1881. Photo by Enric Sala.

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala is setting off to explore Franz Josef Land, one of the most remote archipelagos in the world, only 900 km from the North Pole. Home to polar bears, whales, seals and more, the team will investigate how global warming may be affecting this crucial ecosystem in ways we still do not fully comprehend.  Follow his adventures throughout the month.

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We woke up to a grey day with more sea ice than yesterday. It did not look appealing, but we were already obsessed by what we’d seen underwater yesterday – therefore we went diving again straight after breakfast.

We jumped in the water underneath the volcanic cliff of Rubini Rock, surrounded by screaming birds. The water was green on the surface, and I dived down hoping to get to the deeper layer of clearer water. I could not see the bottom until I almost touched it. And then, in front of me, on a small rock, was one of the most incredible creatures I have seen underwater: a sea spider – a giant by sea spider standards (six centimeters in diameter).

This species was found for the first time during the Leigh-Smith 1881 expedition to Franz Josef Land. They collected this sea spider with a grab from their ship, but they never saw it underwater. We might be the first to photograph it in its natural environment.

Tikhaya Bay with some icebergs, and the massive Sedov Glacier on the background. Photo by Enric Sala.
Tikhaya Bay with some icebergs, and the massive Sedov Glacier on the background. Photo by Enric Sala.

NEXT: Read All Franz Josef Land 2013 Blog Posts

 

The Pristine Seas: Franz Josef Land expedition is sponsored by Blancpain and Davidoff Cool Water. 

 

Comments

  1. Louanna Holden
    Colorado
    August 17, 2013, 12:47 pm

    Such a fascinating trip and wonderful photos! You are all so lucky to be able to see all those beautiful sights!

  2. Linda
    Netherlands
    August 12, 2013, 2:27 pm

    What size is this spider?

  3. jannie botha
    south africa
    August 10, 2013, 8:44 pm

    This site is awesome !! With more than enough inmfo and. Photos. Your guys are doing what only a few people can do. Congrats!!

  4. chad dudley
    va
    August 10, 2013, 1:37 pm

    Is it a spider or more like a crab or lobster

  5. cristina
    formentera - spain
    August 2, 2013, 6:37 pm

    ¡congratulations!