…is a species of glass sponge found throughout the northern Pacific Ocean. Cloud sponges are one of the few species of glass sponges that are able to form slow growing reefs. They provide a substrate that a community of invertebrates and other animals can thrive on. Like all glass sponges the cloud sponge’s body wall is made of silicaceous material which makes it unattractive as a meal to most predators, however a few species of sea stars are know to prey on it.
Also known as the Scroll Sponge or the Paper Sponge, the elephant ear sponge is a species of demosponge found throughout the Indo-pacific and is most common in Indonesia and on the Great Barrier Reef. Like most sponges the elephant ear sponge makes its living by filtering the water around it and extracting any nutrients in it. It also is a host for a number of animals like crustaceans and a sea cucumber that make use of the nutrients that are exuded by the sponge.
…is a species of calcareous sponge found throughout the shallow waters of the Mediterranean sea and western Atlantic Ocean. C.clanthrus is made up of a tangled system of tubes, and unlike other calcareous sponges these tubes have an osculum ( a sponge structure which water flows through). This species is also an asconoid which means its choano and pinacocytes are primitive and the sponge has to manage more water. It is also made up of exclusively three-pointed spicules (a structural support element in sponges) which are called triactines.
Antarctica’s Bizarre Creatures Come to Life Online
by Megan Gannon
The strange creatures that thrive on the bottom of the chilly ocean surrounding Antarctica have been revealed in a comprehensive collection of snapshots and datasets now available online.
The database, published as part of a paper in the journal Nature Conservation, covers the frozen continent’s macrobenthic organisms, creatures that live on the seafloor and are big enough to be seen by the naked eye.
This community includes spiny echinoderms, sponges, crustaceans as well as some bottom-dwelling fish that are uniquely adapted to the region’s ice-laden waters — for instance, icefish (Notothenioidei), which have a natural antifreeze chemical in their blood and body fluids that allow them to survive in frigid temperatures…
These changes won’t necessarily be for the good of the shell and skeleton builders. New research published in Marine Biology shows that boring sponges eroded scallop shells twice as fast under the more acidic conditions projected for the year 2100. This makes bad news for the scallops even worse: not only will they have to cope with weakened shells from acidification alone, but their shells will crumble even more quickly after their cohabiters move in.
Boring sponges aren’t named thus because they’re mundane; rather, they make their homes by boring holes into the calcium carbonate shells and skeletons of animals like scallops, oysters and corals. Using chemicals, they etch into the shell and then mechanically wash away the tiny shell chips, slowly spreading holes within the skeleton or shell and sometimes across its surface. Eventually, these holes and tunnels can kill their host, but the sponge will continue to live there until the entire shell has eroded away…
is a species of freshwater sponge that can be found in North America, Europe and Asia. They can usually be found lodged under logs and rocks in clean freshwater lakes and slow flowing streams. To deal with the harsh winters that come with living in freshwater the sponge becomes dormant during winter months. During the summer the sponges reproduce either by budding asexually or sexually by giving birth to larvae.
… a species of tube sponge that has long tube-like structures of cylindrical shape. Many tubes are attached to one particular part of the organism. A single tube can grow up to 5 feet and 3 in thick. These sponges mostly live in the Atlantic Ocean: the Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida, and Bonaire.
They are filter feeders; they eat food such as plankton or suspended detritus as it passes them. Tubes occur in varying colors including lavender, gray and brown. They reproduce both by asexual and sexual reproduction. These sponges take hundreds of years to grow and grow til death…
… is a hexactinellid sponge inhabiting the deep ocean. In traditional Asian cultures, this particular sponge (in a dead, dry state) was given as a wedding gift because the sponge symbiotically houses two small shrimp, a male and a female, who live out their lives inside the sponge. They breed, and when their offspring are tiny, the offspring escape to find a Venus Flower Basket of their own. The shrimp inside the basket clean it and, in return, the basket provides food for the shrimp by trapping it in its tissues and then releasing wastes into the body of the sponge for the shrimp. It is also speculated that the bioluminescent light of bacteria harnessed by the sponge may attract other small organisms which the shrimp eat…
Deep Sea Ocean Floor Images from Remote Operated Vehicle dives during the NOAA Galapagos Rift Expedition, July 2011.
The top photo is of the summit of a 10+ meter extinct chimney on the sea floor, covered in many smaller chimlets that mark sites of former hydrothermal flow. Pictures of deep sea animals include: an 8 armed sea star, a squat lobster, closeup of an anemone, a benthic octopus, a yellow sponge on hardened lava flow, and gorgonian whip coral.
Only one of these two “sponges” is actually a sponge! Can you tell which one?
The yellow one on the left is a frogfish (Family: Antennariidae), a type of coral reef fish found around the world. This species mimics a sponge so that its prey—smaller sponge-eating fish—will approach, only to be eaten by the frogfish itself!
Many types of mimicry in the natural world involve prey animals disguising themselves to avoid predators. This frogfish’s mimicry to catch prey is called aggressive mimicry because it’s on the attack, not the defense.
More Info on the Recently Discovered Carnivorous Sponge
by Becky Oskin
A new carnivore shaped like a candelabra has been spotted in deep ocean waters off California’s Monterey Bay.
The meat-eating species was dubbed the “harp sponge,” so-called because its structure resembles a harp or lyre turned on its side.
A team from the Monterey Bay Research Aquarium Institute in Moss Landing, Calif., discovered the sponge in 2000 while exploring with a remotely operated vehicle. The sponges live nearly 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) beneath the ocean’s surface…
The harp sponge: an extraordinary new species of carnivorous sponge
In this video we describe a new species of carnivorous sponge, Chondrocladia lyra from the deep-sea off California. C. lyra is called the harp sponge because its basic structure, called a vane, is shaped like a harp or lyre. Each vane consists of a horizontal branch supporting several parallel, vertical branches.
Clinging with root-like “rhizoids” to the soft, muddy sediment, the harp sponge captures tiny animals that are swept into its branches by deep-sea currents. Typically, sponges feed by straining bacteria and bits of organic material from the seawater they filter through their bodies. However, carnivorous harp sponges snare their prey—tiny crustaceans—with barbed hooks that cover the sponge’s branching limbs. Once the harp sponge has its prey in its clutches, it envelops the animal in a thin membrane, and then slowly begins to digest it…
A squat lobster and sea spider live on the fringe of a barrel sponge. Image captured August 5, 2010 by the Little Hercules ROV at 700 meters depth on a new seamount mapped by Baruna Jaya IV during the INDEX SATAL 2010 Expedition.
Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010