Fishing spiders of New Zealand
The fishing spiders of New Zealand are at least four relatively common species of Dolomedes, which are spiders adapted to hunt on the surface of water.
Two of the fishing spiders are widespread on the two main islands of New Zealand. Dolomedes aquaticus grows up to 7 centimetres (2.8 in) across and specialises in open, unforested riverbanks, and lives under rocks within 5 metres (16 ft) of the river. Another species of similar size, specialising in forested riverbanks, is also widespread on the mainland, but is as yet undescribed. It is known as Dolomedes III or the New Zealand Forest Fishing Spider. The largest of the New Zealand fishing spiders occurs in the Chatham Islands, but has also not yet been named. The fourth species, D. minor, is not restricted to rivers. Known as the Nursery Web Spider, it makes white nursery webs on shrubs, but is still capable of fishing behaviour. Spinning webs and catching fish.
New Zealand Dolomedes species have yellow stripes on each side of their head (cephalothorax), but their overall colouring is adapted to conceal them in their chosen environment. D. aquaticus is the dark grey of the greywacke rocks that line many New Zealand rivers, while D. III has a mottled pattern to match its forest home.
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