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Seaweek 2011: Spotlight on Marine Science

Marine Scientist Profile:

Who am I?
My name is Claudia Arango and I am a marine zoologist interested in the evolution and diversity of sea spiders.

I work for and my work / research involves:
I am a research fellow at the Queensland Museum ( and most of my current research funding comes from the Australian Antarctic Science Grants (AAS) ( to work on the diversity and evolution of Antarctic sea spiders. Sea spiders are a very ancient group of animals, they are found in all different marine habitats but they are most abundant and deep, cold waters.

I study species of sea spiders from many places around the world and use their DNA to see how they are all related, how did they get to so many marine habitats and in general to understand the evolution of these amazing and bizarre animals.

How does my work relate to marine conservation?
My work is related to biodiversity, mostly providing data and hypotheses to explain the patterns we observe related to the diversity of marine invertebrates. We need to have a basic knowledge of the species and their biology if we intend to implement practices for their conservation and my work provides basic knowledge that can be used by conservation managers and planners.

The impacts of human activity on the oceans are evident and the more we know about the flora and fauna, the more prepared we are to look after them and to understand the changes and impacts we are causing.

Things I like about my job:
I love looking at sea spiders that have been collected by large research vessels from places as remote as the hydrothermal vents down in 3000 m depth. I also love going diving and finding them myself hiding in crevices or under rocks. There is always a discovery, I love that there is so much to learn even when others think you are an expert! I like analysing data and learning new technologies to apply in the study of biodiversity.

I like discussing ideas with colleagues, travelling and being part of international research networks. On the downside, it can get very competitive, each day is harder to get research funding, and with sea spiders in particular, despite desperate needs for more knowledge there is very little investment from governments and industry.

What inspired you to consider a career in marine science?
I decided to be a biologist when I was finishing high school; I wanted to know all about animals, their behaviour and their evolution. The fieldwork as part of the courses and the lecturers’ passion and knowledge were definitely inspiring. I was fascinated by arthropods, particularly arachnids and crabs and later on when I first encountered a Caribbean Sea spider during my undergraduate thesis project I was captivated.

Do you have a favourite marine creature (if so why)?
My super favourites are sea spiders, especially the giant ones from the deep-sea; they are the most extraordinary thing you’ve ever seen, some have such long nose (proboscis) it is twice the size of the body!



Claudia in the office

A sea spider - Anoplodactylu evansi

Sea Spider found at Jervis Bay, NSW
Image © Tony Brown from Flickr

Read Claudia's article on Sea spiders.



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