League of Leggy Locals

I have three leggy locals to introduce you to today:

Dr Amy Moran finds a crinoid!

1) Crinoid Promachocrinus kerguelensis

This crinoid is found throughout Antarctica from 10 to 2100 meters depth! It has 20 arms, each of which is edged with feathery pinnules which contain sensory and reproductive organs. Promachocrinus uses its arms to trap drifting plankton. The arms have grooves down the middle along which trapped food particles travel towards the upwards-facing mouth. It changes its feeding posture/shape depending on the ocean currents to maximize the amount of food it captures! Underneath the arms, it has legs (cirri) which it uses to walk along the seafloor and cling to objects.

2) Scale worm Eulagisca gigantea

This might be the coolest animal I found this year! I was just blown away with how big this animal was! This GIANT worm has been observed in Antarctica at depths between 30 to 920 meters. It grows up to 22 cm long and 10cm wide! The eversible proboscis mouthpart bears a pair of extra large jaws and is about a quarter of the length of the whole worm! Translation: I wouldn’t want to pick a fight with this critter!

3) Sea Spider Colossendeis megalonyx

Found throughout Antarctica at depths from 3 to 4900 m. They are often 20 to 30 cm in diameter! They feed on soft corals, small hydroids, sponges, and pelagic invertebrates, including the gastropod Clione antarctica, jellyfish, and ctenophores. Later in the dive, I found another one feeding on something gelatinous (as shown in the photo below). The giant Antarctic sea spiders might be my favourite animal here!

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