When faced with an enormous spider – complete with bulging abdomen and long, hairy legs – a lot of people would flee in panic. And that may particularly be the case in Australia, where some species of arachnid are dangerous. But when some citizens of that country spotted a spider in danger during flooding, they put any fears they may have had aside and did something awesome.
In March 2018 residents of Queensland, Australia, found themselves battling against heavy rainfall and floodwaters. According to News.com.au, the situation in the state was so bad that local authorities officially declared the area from Cairns to Townsville a “disaster zone.”
That month, the north-west region of Queensland saw floods of a kind not witnessed since 2009, in fact. The weather was so hostile, moreover, that a group of more than 70 schoolchildren ended up getting stranded while camping at Echo Creek – an adventure center near Koombooloomba National Park.
And as the students were isolated at the adventure park, with no foreseeable way out, authorities were forced to start a rescue effort. Fortunately, the army managed to get food supplies to them, despite the adverse weather conditions.
There was also a plan to move the kids out of the area by plane – but, with more rain on the way, the operation had to run against the clock. Nevertheless, the children were eventually rescued, and in a March 2018 interview with The Courier-Mail, State Disaster Coordinator Deputy Commissioner Bob Gee would praise those who helped in the effort as “outstanding.”
Hundreds of homes in the state of Queensland were affected by the torrential rainfall during the period, too. When the banks of the Herbert River burst, for example, flood water flowed through residential areas, causing widespread damage to private properties.
And it wasn’t just people who had to suffer through the downpour and its effects: animals were also displaced by the severe weather. A crocodile was spotted lunging at a vehicle in the state; meanwhile, reports emerged of snakes swimming through the floodwater.
But one video of a creature in the flood particularly caught people’s attention online. And the subject of that video wasn’t, as it turns out, a conventionally cute critter, either. That’s because it was a spider – and an enormous one at that.
The clip in question was posted to Facebook by a Queensland resident named Andrea Gofton. And it’s perhaps no surprise that the footage subsequently garnered thousands of views; after all, it’s pretty dramatic.
It shows what appears to be a road submerged in flowing flood water. Hanging above the ground, though, are a few leafless branches – and it’s these to which the gigantic spider clings. And down to its size, its long, thick legs and hairy abdomen, the creature is arguably an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare.
Gofton had originally spotted the eight-legged creature in the Halifax neighborhood, where the overflowing Herbert River had engulfed local streets. Unfortunately, it appeared that the spider had become caught up in the disaster and was trying to avoid being swept away by the water.
But while plenty of people wouldn’t have had the guts to go anywhere near the stranded critter, Gofton was up to the challenge. And, in the video she can be seen extending her hand towards it to demonstrate its size.
“I reckon it’s a funnel,” Gofton goes on to say, as her hand hovers right next to the creature. And she sounds remarkably calm, even though Australian funnel-web spiders can kill humans if life-saving antivenom is not administered to victims in time.
However, the video’s caption suggests that someone was brave enough to take things one step further. This read, “My excitement for the day… Saved a spider,” indicating that either Gofton or someone she was with had managed to relocate the unfortunate arachnid.
And, according to Australia’s Channel 9 News, the spider was indeed moved from its precarious position. Apparently, locals took hold of the branch that the creature was perched on; the spider was then relocated to an avocado tree in the city center, where the water level wasn’t so dangerous.
What’s more, people online were quick to thank the individuals concerned for their heroic actions that day. Indeed, although the footage of the spider gave Facebook user Karen Cusimano “some serious heebie-jeebies,” she was full of praise for the spider’s saviors. “Good job rescuing him!” Cusimano commented underneath the video.
Another Facebook user, meanwhile, wrote, “Good for you. Most people claim to love and respect wildlife, but only if they’re cute and cuddly.” And, eventually, the species of the spider was determined, too.
It turned out that the creature in the video was most likely to be a whistling spider rather than a funnel-web, as Gofton had claimed. This species is often referred to as the bird-eating spider, but that’s somewhat of a misnomer: they’re much more likely to opt for insects, frogs or other spiders instead.
Plus, while whistling spiders have long fangs, their bite fortunately isn’t fatal to humans. The species may pose a deadly risk to cats and dogs, however – so it’s definitely worth keeping pets well away from any of these arachnids.
So, while the thought of going anywhere near a spider that size might send some people into a cold sweat, it’s still heartwarming to know that the creature in this video was saved by some brave humans. And the story serves as a reminder that in times of natural disaster, animals are often victims, too.