Spiders - Rare spider glides into Wales – for the Fishing

Feb 5, 2010, 20:36 PM by User Not Found

Fen Raft spider

IT'S one of Europe's largest and rarest spiders, it feeds on fish caught as it floats menacingly on streams and canals - and it's thriving in Wales.

One of only three UK populations of the rare fen raft spider has been observed on a waterway in South Wales - sparking intrigue among scientists about how the unusual species arrived in this part of the UK.

Until recently, the "fishing" spider - which is around 3in long and uses tiny hairs on its legs to glide over the surface of water - was found only on fens in Suffolk and Norfolk.

But seven years ago, one of the arachnids was spotted at Llandarcy, near Neath.

But now a population of them has been found on the Tennant Canal at Pant-y-Sais Fen, near Jersey Marine, Neath - allowing producers of a new wildlife documentary to obtain rare footage of one.

 The shots, recorded for the S4C series Tir Cymru, shows a hugely pregnant female raft spider near the Tennant Canal.

The programme, presented by naturalist Iolo Williams, follows the rich wildlife to be found on the routes of old roads, railways and canals in Wales.

Mike Clark of Bridgend of the South Wales Wildlife Trust, made the initial discovery of the fen raft spider in Llandarcy around seven years ago.

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