Sea spider (Pycnogonida)
Collected: Summer 2005, 2-4 km off of Assateague VA with an epibenthic sled fitted with a 365 micrometer mesh plankton net.
This is a sea spider belonging to the group Pycnogonida. These strange creatures with eight legs are indeed more closely related to spiders than to other arthropods.
Sea spiders are usually found on the bottom, attached to hydroids or sponges, but they are occasionally swept off the bottom and then caught in plankton nets. I find them most commonly in saltmarsh creeks having strong tidal currents. In our region, they are usually 1-5 mm across.
Collected and photographed by: Bill Johnson, Goucher College