‘Unexpected Phenomenon’ in Deep Ocean: Sponges Move Around More Than We Think!


Why did the sponge often cross the seabed? It’s a permitted question, mostly since experts have only just now found that these bizarre organisms may be remarkably more sprightly than anybody ever known.


(Photo : Francesco Ungaro)

The Numerous Trails of Sponge

In a new study, scientists observed the deep Arctic seabed with an operated submersible that is far away, checking to locate signs of life beneath the ocean at the top of the world. Across the seamount peaks of Langseth Ridge submerged in the Arctic Ocean, they discovered something they never anticipated – sponge tracks, strange trails evidently left behind by some closeby and otherwise very-stationary-appearing sea sponges.

“This is the first time numerous sponge trails have been seen in situ and related to sponge mobility,” the team, headed by Teresa Morganti, a marine biologist from the Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology in Germany, describes in a new paper. Biologists have for long regarded sponges as largely sessile form of life that hardly ever move, except they are in their larval stage.

Also Read: Sea Sponge: The Strongest ‘Uncrushable’ Glass Skeleton Species

Sponge’s Locomotion  

While adult sponges can and do slowly change their position in response to different external stimuli, they’re not exactly well-known for their agility or speed. They are, after all, hardly sponges – astonishing and uncommon creatures, to be certain, but not animals possessing muscles or special organs for movement.

However, past research into sponge locomotion has suggested the limited extent of their movement – enabled by expanding and contracting their bodies – permits them to change their position to avoid adverse environmental conditions, to dissipate after reproduction, and acquire food.

Trails of Spicule

But it seems these maneuvers don’t come without a cost. In the recent observations along the Arctic seabed ridges, the scientists noted that the tracks of sponges were obvious by a trail of spicule – tiny skeletal-like formations that act as structural elements to assist sponge bodies, but which appear to also scatter them off during sponge movement.

“Trails of densely interwoven spicules attached directly to the under part or lower flanks of sponge individuals, proposing these trails are traces of movement of the sponges,” the researchers revealed.”These spicule trails were noticed to be some centimeters in height and sometimes many meters in length, often linked directly to living sponges.”


(Photo : Francesco Ungaro)


In a video recorded by the scientists’ towed camera system, OFOBS (Ocean Floor Observation and Bathymetry System), close to 70 percent of images representing live sponges also revealed trails of sponge spicules, proposing these never-before-sighted tracks may truly be a usual byproduct of sponge existence.

While the biological meaning of the spicule debris in the trails stays uncertain, the team says it’s possible for the spine-like fragments might become a food source for other sponges, both juveniles. Effectively, a trail of breadcrumbs may assist in feeding and dispersing the juveniles in the dim recesses of the deep ocean, which is greatly devoid of nutrients. 

Related Article: Sponges Can Withstand High Doses of Radiation Without Getting Cancer

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