Check out this footage from a recent international expedition called the Collaborative East Antarctic Marine Census. Their mission is part of an effort to take stock of all the life in the world’s ocean, but these creatures were filmed in the Antarctic Ocean (Southern Ocean). The bulbous, plantlike structures are called tunicates.


  1. #1 Rick MacPherson
    February 19, 2008

    anybody know what sort of rig was used to film this? it sure looked like a sled-type camera rig, which if true would crush my awe of the imagery even flatter than i suppose the benthic tunicates and sea spiders in the sled’s path got squashed…

  2. #2 CR McClain
    February 19, 2008

    First, I am going to have to ask you to remove this post and you clearly violating the DSN Accord of 2007 which states in subsection 31b that

    all topics related to the deep sea will be exclusively covered by DSN. Matters marine, but not deep sea, will be privy to DSN authors first who will then delegate topic to other blogs as they see fit

    Second, the chains in the foreground seem to suggest a towed camera sledge

  3. #3 horgworm
    February 19, 2008

    i don’t know why those are reported as ‘sea spiders’, when they’re very clearly free-swimming crinoids!

  4. #4 Frank Anderson
    February 20, 2008

    I second horgworm’s comment. The media keep calling these “sea spiders”, which is the common name for pycnogonids. Those are certainly not pycnogonids (though the Southern Ocean has some amazing pycnogonids) — they are crinoids.

  5. #5 Benny
    February 20, 2008

    Seriously, what kind of IDIOT would call those crinoids sea spiders?

  6. #6 Greg Morrow
    February 20, 2008

    It may (or may not) be worth pointing out that tunicates are urochordates. They’re filter feeders who are not much more than bags of water, but they’re special because they’re about our second closest relatives–you’ve got the vertebrates, then the cephalochordates, then the urochordates. (The cephalochordates and chordates probably evolved from a larvel urochordate that never grew up.)

  7. #7 MikeG
    February 20, 2008

    Thanks to those that pointed out the swimming crinoid thing. I was wondering about those. Seemed to be too many “legs” for a sea spider. I was confused. (I don’t study anything with a nucleus, so I suppose confusion is to be expected.)

  8. #8 Liesele
    February 21, 2008

    Greg, how come the urochordates get all the fun? What if I never want to grow up. *whines* Can’t I be a urochordate too?
    The way my kids look at me sometimes you’d think I was. Of course I’ve been known to refer to them as “larvae.”

  9. #9 Greg Morrow
    February 21, 2008

    Liesele, I may have been unclear–we vertebrates (i.e. chordates) are among the urochordate larva that never grew up. We get to have the wild dancing parties with our crazy limbs and heads and things while the stodgy urochordates stay home, stuck to the ocean floor sifting through gallons of sea water looking for bits of food.

    I wrote a bit about this a while back in Talking Out of Our Asses. Probably it’s not too inaccurate.

  10. #10 Liesele
    February 22, 2008

    Don’t worry, Greg, I get it, I do know we’re chordates and all. I was just being silly. Again, blame the kids. Come to think of it how come they get to be all larval and stuff? Who said the pre-adolescents get to act like children anyway?
    Incidentally, thanks Benny, I always loved tunicates since we were first introduced to them in high school. They’re fascinating for lifeforms which appear so simple in a macro kind of way.

New comments have been disabled.