Sponges are diverse, coming in all colours, shapes and sizes with approximately 8,550 species scientifically classified in the phylum Porifera. Sponges fall into four distinct classes: the Demospongiae (the most diverse, containing 90 percent of all living sponges), Hexactinellida (glass sponges), Calcarea (calcareous sponges), and Homoscleromorpha (the smallest class, newly recognized, with approximately 117 species).
Incredible filtering powers
Sponges feed by drawing water in through their pores, capturing bacteria and organic matter in the process. Some species can filter up to 1000 litres of water per kg of tissue each day! Sponges have the capacity to remove up to 95% of bacteria and particles from the water and 90% of dissolved organic carbon(DOC), converting suspended particles and dissolved matter into food for other animals.
Sponges as habitat providers
Biotech and innovation
Sustaining Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, yet they thrive in nutrient poor systems. A key reason they are able to do so is the presence of sponges. Researchers discovered that sponges consume vast amounts of organic matter and recycles it to feed snails crabs and other species. They found that sponges recycle nearly ten times as much matter as bacteria and produce as much nutrition as the algae and reef's combined. As it turns out, sponges play a key role in holding reef ecosystems together and although they aren't the usual stars of conservation campaigns they deserve some recognition.
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