i will admit that part of the reason i chose this animal is its name. ‘diving bell’! swoon! did you guys ever see ‘the diving bell and the butterfly’? part of the reason i watched it was its name – the film was intensely beautiful and lived up to the wonderful name.
i digress! let’s talk about the diving bell spider, argyroneta aquatica. GET THIS. it uses its silk not to construct a net, but to make a bell attached to an underwater plant. then the spider goes to the surface, where air gets trapped by all the little hairs on its body, and takes the air to its diving bell, where it replenishes the supply.
physics is on the side of the diving bell; because substances diffuse from areas of higher concentration to those of lower concentration, oxygen from the water diffuses into the air and carbon dioxide takes the reverse path, returning to the water. this same process of diffusion is why the spider must constantly refill its bell. our air has high levels of nitrogen (about 78%!) compared to oxygen, and this also diffuses into the water around the bell. because the nitrogen is such a large part of the air, its loss causes the bell to shrink, so about once a day the spider needs to return to the surface to refill the bell.
the spider waits in its diving bell, watching for its prey (aquatic insects and crustaceans), and once it’s caught something to eat, the prey is stored and eaten there as well.
when newly hatched, diving bell spiders hide inside empty snail shells filled with air, until they are able to build their own bells. aww.