Sea Sponges

Generally people know that natural sponges are used for exfoliating and massaging your skin. They are soft, highly absorbent, and create luxurious lather. But how many people know that these sponges are the skeleton of a once living sea creature? Sea sponges are colorful, simple-celled, bottom-dwelling animals found in all the oceans of the world. Scientific name for sea sponges is “Porifera” meaning pore-bearing referring to the many pores or holes visible on all sponges. Scientific research has proved that sea sponges, even though they look like plants, are actually simple multi-cellular Sea Animals without any muscles, nerves, or sensory organs. They are food sources for creatures such as Sea Turtles and are used for cosmetic purposes by humans.

Types of Sea Sponges Sea sponges come in many different shapes, sizes and color. Some look like thin tree branches, some like vases and some even resemble common flowers. Typically, they are small but some can grow as wide as 6 feet. Encrusting sea sponges are like moss; they will cover the surface to which they are attached. Freestanding sponges have odd shapes and have more volume. Some of the kinds are: tube sponge, vase sponge, yellow sponge, red tree sponge, barrel sponge, etc.

Sea Sponges Habitat Thousands of species of Sea Sponges could be found in all oceans. Different classes of sponges live in different habitats. Most of them live in salt water. Sponges live on the sand at the bottom of the sea, or they attach themselves to rocks. They can manage to survive from tidal shores all the way down to depths of 9000 meters. They can be found everywhere, from the polar region to the tropics. They generally live in quiet and clear waters because sediments stirred by waves or tides could block the pores of the sponge making it difficult for them to breathe and eat.

Sea Sponges Food Sea sponges attach itself to something solid and try to gather as much food as possible from the surrounding waters. They are filter feeders and would capture and ingest the food particles carried by the water. Sponges capture bacteria, plankton and other organic particles that float in the water. Their collar cells (sticky cells that exist within the inner "canals" of the sponge) capture the food particles and the transporter cells called amebocytes carry the food to other cells inside the body of the sponges.

Sea Sponges Reproduction Sponges reproduce by budding. They grow a new sponge on them, and once its big enough it falls off. This is an asexual form of reproduction. They can regenerate from the tiniest fragment of the original sponge. Most sponges are hermaphrodites. They can display both male and female characteristics as required. New-born sponges look like planktons. After free-floating for a few days, they attach themselves to something hard and then grow. They have a life span of few months to many years. Sea sponges are renewable. Thus, supply of sea sponges would always be ample, atleast till the oceans are not too polluted for them.