Showing posts tagged as "blue sponge"
A Sea of Sponges
Sponges aren’t the stars of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but their diversity of colors, shapes and sizes is eye-catching. And consider this: Every multi-celled animal on Earth is based on the genetic blueprint of sponges.They are truly the foundation of the animal kingdom.
Our sponges may not be as startling as the stove-pipe sponge that looks so much like the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. They don’t have the personality of Spongebob Squarepants. But they’re fascinating animals with a vital role to play in healthy oceans.
Sponges populate many of our exhibits in the Ocean’s Edge galleries. You can get a closer look — and even discover what they feel like — at our touch pools.
They’re simple: a group of loosely connected, nearly independent cells, with no organs and no tissues. If broken apart, they can put themselves back together again. Many produce powerful chemicals to defend themselves — chemicals that have cancer-fighting properties.
Globally, it’s estimated there are upwards of 10,000 to 15,000 species of sponges in the ocean — with thousands left to be discovered. Not long ago, our colleagues at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute documented a new carnivorous sponge: the harp sponge, pictured above.
The yellow goiter sponge, also pictured here, was spotted on an MBARI dive to the Pioneer Seamount. Some goiter sponges can grow to be nearly 10 feet across.
Photo credits: red volcano sponge and cobalt blue sponge, © Monterey Bay Aquarium/Steve Webster; orange puffball sponge, © Monterey Bay Aquarium/David Cripe; harp sponge and goiter sponge, © MBARI