A small hairy spider that lives underwater and is named after singing legend Bob Marley has been named in the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Top 10 Marine Species of 2017. This is the only Australian species to make the list. Desis bobmarleyi is an underwater spider species found in the shores of north eastern Queensland, Australia. It is known to build air chambers from silk.

Described by Queensland Museum’s Dr Barbara Baehr, the water spider was a true marine spider that spent most of its lifetime living underwater between corals in the Great Barrier Reef. “Desis bobmarleyi is a small spider with a 6mm long body and long hair like his namesake,” Dr Baehr said.“It uses this long hair on its legs and abdomen to create an air bubble around its middle that enables it to breathe and survive between the high and low tide zones. “During high tide these extremely rare and unusual animals hide in the air chambers, but during low tide they are vagrant hunters found on corals, barnacles or debris.

While the tide is high and the spiders’ homes are covered by water, they build silk chambers in these pockets to seal themselves inside, allowing them to breathe.“It was this behaviour that inspired us to name this new intertidal species in honour of Bob Marley’s hit song High Tide or Low Tide, which played during our field research in Queensland’s Port Douglas.“We also felt that Desis bobmarleyi’s behaviour reflected Bob Marley’s adventurous and resilient spirit.” Desis bobmarleyi belongs to a family of marine spiders with special behaviours that allow them to survive submersion in water.

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