Fish research nets unexpected find

Anew species of peacock spider has been discovered in the South East by local Nature Glenelg Trust ecological field officer Sheryl Holliday.

Ms Holliday said she initially found the spider in November 2018 at a swamp near Nangwarry. After doing some research, she found no spider quite like this one.

“Something just caught my eye and I looked down and it was a little spider with orange and white stripes on his head,” Ms Holliday said. Ms Holliday said she found the spider in a second location while fish sampling at Mount Burr in November 2020.

“I saw it on the side of the net, I was so shocked,” Ms Holliday said. “I was that excited.”

Museums Victoria Arachnologist Joseph Schubert, a world leader in peacock spider research, named the spider ‘Maratus nemo’ due to its striking orange face and white stripes, which are alike to a Clownfish.

From birth, the spider endures a series of moults and after the final moult the male’s distinct colours are revealed. Proving not all spiders are scary, Maratus nemo is about the size of a grain of rice and Ms Holliday said they are scaredy-cats.

These spiders are seasonal, appearing in wetlands from October until December. Ms Holliday said she has seen more than 40 spiders of this species since finding the first one.

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