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Home » Archives » February 2017 » Polar Gigantism in Antarctic Sea Spiders

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02/06/2017: "Polar Gigantism in Antarctic Sea Spiders"

ig_I_SeaSpider_timothy_dwyer-01 (123k image)
(Sea spider -Timothy Dwyer photo)

A talk on Giant-sized sea spiders takes place from 7pm-8:30pm on Tuesday 14 February 2017 at the Emmanuel Episcopal Parish Hall in Eastsound. The talk is free, and under-ice Antarctic giant spiders may sound like the beginning of a chilling winter’s tale, it’s the focus of this month’s Marine Science Lecture Series.

Please come to entertain your minds and warm your hearts with local Timothy Dwyer, math and science teacher at Spring Street International School in Friday Harbor.

Dwyer was selected as one of 15 teachers nationwide to participate in PolarTREC, an educational research experience focused on the Arctic and Antarctic in which K-12 teachers work closely with scientists as a pathway to improving science education for teachers, students, and the public around the world.

Dwyer assisted a team combining talents from the University of Hawaii and University of Montana. During his months integrated with the research team, Dwyer dived under the frozen ocean to collect pycnogonida sea spiders - a volleyball-sized study species for polar gigantism. A leading hypothesis states gigantism may be due to the animals’ extremely slow metabolism and the high oxygen concentration of cold polar waters. How the polar gigantism phenomenon will be altered as the Antarctic environment warms due to climate change is a question that has captured the team’s attention.

Timothy Dwyer has always been fascinated by the diversity of life that exists locally in the Salish Sea and the global ocean that connects the world’s ecosystems. Formerly a research staff member at University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories, Dwyer has been a scientific diver for 14 years and science teacher at Spring Street for the past five years. He says, “The students in my classes are the first generation who will live their entire lives affected by climate change. Climate change is happening all around us, but the impacts are much easier to see at the poles. My experience on the ice will help me become a better instructor, bringing first-person experience to the community to illustrate the dramatic and rapid changes happening on our planet.”

The 2016-2017 Marine Science Lecture Series is designed to inspire the public and to highlight the amazing fish and wildlife of our region. It is presented by program partners The SeaDoc Society and YMCA Camp Orkila, and is made possible through generous sponsorship by The Averna Family and Deer Harbor Charters, Barbara Bentley and Glenn Prestwich, Barbara Brown, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Audrey and Dean Stupke, West Sound Marina, Inc., and Martha Wyckoff in honor of Lee Rolfe. For more information, visit:

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