Entomology Department

Halobates - Oceanic

Halobates - Oceanic Insects

Nils Møller Andersen
Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen

Ó Copyright, N. M. Andersen & Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen


Structure and Function

Biology and Ecology

Distribution of 
Sea Skaters

Phylogeny and Evolution

Taxonomy and Identification

A Fossil Halobates

- the Missing Link?

of Ocean Striders

Halobates in the Collections of ZMUC

A Checklist of Halobates

An Illustrated Key to Halobates


A sea skater, Halobates sericeus Esch. Adult female, length 3.4 mm.
(Photo: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla).

The evolutionary success of insects on land is unparalleled among the metazoans. Although many insects occur in marine habitats, the only oceanic habitat colonized by insects is the sea-air interface.

Five species of sea skaters or ocean striders, genus Halobates (Hemiptera- Heteroptera, Gerridae) are widespread in tropical oceans and both adults and juveniles spend their entire lives on the sea surface. There are an additional 41 Halobates species in sheltered, coastal marine waters throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific. After being largely ignored by biologists for decades, sea skaters have recently become much better known and their taxonomy, phylogeny, biology, ecology, and biochemistry have been widely studied.


Many colleagues contributed to Andersen’s research on Halobates and other marine water striders by donating material, cooperating on various projects, etc. In particular, he wished to thank Lanna Cheng (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, La Jolla), John T. Polhemus (Englewood, Colorado), William A. Foster (University Museum, Cambridge, U.K.), Tom A. Weir (CSIRO Entomology, Canberra), Jakob Damgaard (Zoological Institute & Museum, Copenhagen University), and Felix A.H. Sperling (University of Alberta, Edmonton). This research was supported by grants from the Danish Natural Science Research Council, 1990-2001. 

This web-site was constructed by Nils Møller Andersen (deceased May 12, 2004). These pages will not be updated in the future.


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 Last update: 14 maj 2005