Meet the spider who catches fish
THE fishing is so good in Queensland even the spiders have taken it up.
Meet the incredible fishing spider, a spindly, long-legged animal that has the ability to run on water and dive below the surface to grab unwary fish.
And far from being a rarity, wildlife experts say the spider can be found lurking around Brisbane waterways and even some backyard swimming pools.
The spider is of the dolomedes or water spider family. Its larger cousin grows to a size bigger than a human hand.
Queensland Museum spider expert Robert Raven said a Brisbane man had recently brought one in complaining that it had killed his prized goldfish.
Dr Raven said the spiders could dive underwater to half a metre to catch fish. They were often found around freshwater streams along eastern Australia.
He said it was not believed the spiders harmed humans.
"I've been bitten by one and it had no effect," Dr Raven said.
Another spider researcher, Dr David Wilson, said he had seen the water spiders living around rocks near a friend's swimming pool in Brisbane.
"They used to scoot around on the surface of the water collecting beetles and insects and dragging them back to the rocks," he said.
Dr Wilson said the specimen in our photograph, taken by technician Jodi-Lea Matheson, had been raised in a laboratory.
"It became a bit of a talking point. Every now and then it would lunge into the water and come out with this fish swinging between its jaws," he said.
Dr Wilson said the lab pet would take on a silvery, liquid appearance underwater because of the air bubbles trapped in its hairy skin.
"We used to call it Terminator Spider, after the molten metal guy in the second Terminator movie."
Dr Wilson is studying the spider's venom for possible medical applications