OCEAN OF AIR
LIVING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN OF AIR
Argyroneta aquatica is a spider that spends most of its life underwater. Unlie most aquatic animals, it is not equipped with gills: its breathing apparatus is inherited from terrestrial life-forms.
To survive underwater, the Argyroneta aquatica dwells in a kind of diving bell that envelopes its abdomen and most of its legs. This air bubble is secured with threads of silk in order to resist contact with plants or predators.
Over time, the oxygen content of the diving bell becomes depleted and the spider eventually returns to the surface to collect more air to replenish its underwater home.
Rather than separating the aqueous from the atmospheric, this floating droplet of air is a permeable membrane that acts as an interface between these two worlds, allowing the spider to breath underwater.
This unique behavior points to the capacity of certain species to transform their way of life to adapt to new environments. The underwater spider invites us to a process of biospeculation that raises questions as to the possible future of our environment. Will humans someday be able to live in the air?