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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Sponge Wars

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, April 15, 2014/Categories: natural history, marine life

You've heard of killer whales, bees, and snails but now add killer sponges to the list.

Marine researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium have discovered four species of poisonous sponges while conducting surveys of  extremophiles living near methane seeps off La Jolla. Utilizing remote controlled underwater robots equipped with high-definition video cameras, the biologists could explore depths approaching 2000 feet below the ocean surface.

The killer sponges inject a toxin into small fish that swim into the textured structures via small "hooks" and slowly digest their prey. Like being in a war zone, the sponges are constantly battling to acquire food in a nutrient poor underwater, "desert" environment.

Killer Sponges, La Jolla, California  (credit: MBARI)

The newly discovered sponges aren't a hazard to divers but you wouldn't want to take a bath with one.


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