Jul 25, 2022
Sponges: bizarre and beautiful creatures of our seas
These incredible animals have been around in our oceans for more than 600 million years

Usually found in the sea, sponges are some of the world's simplest animals. They have no heads, eyes, tails, or mouths, and they live most of their lives rooted in one spot. Their bodies are full of tiny holes called pores through which they feed themselves by pumping water and filtering out small particles of food.

They can be soft as dough, hard like stone, or delicate as glass. Some are dull colors, while others can be beautiful oranges, yellows, purples, or blues. They come in every shape imaginable.Sponges help create habitat, filter particles from seawater, contribute to carbon, nitrogen, and silica cycling. They have also been used for bathing since ancient Egypt.

Research expeditions such as the Exploring the Blue Economy Biotechnology Potential of Deepwater Habitats expedition, many sponges produce medically important chemicals called marine natural products, which can be used to treat human diseases. By collecting specimens, researchers can study these sponges and the compounds they produce in order to better understand these unique animals and to advance medical science for future generations.

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