Thursday, March 19, 2015


It's been a while since I've introduced a crazy-sea-creature...OK, it's been a while since I posted at all, but lets get back to our watery-roots. Today, I'd like to take you down the eddy to a seafloor nightmare: Sponge Bob's evil twin (dun, dun, dun!)

Sponge Bob's Evil Twin?

 ...the Harp Sponge.

The harp sponge (Chondrocladia lyra) is a species of carnivorous deep-sea sponge. Yes, you read that right. Carniverous. Predators.

They don't eat in the typical way of sponges that sweep water into their pores and filter out microscopic bacteria and bits of organic matter for dinner. This sponge is a hunter: it traps larger marine life like copepods and other crustaceans with Velcro-like hooks.

The harp sponge was discovered by Monterey BayAquarium Research Institute off the coast of California. As you can see in this picture, it gets its name (both common, Harp Sponge, and Latin species name, lyra from it's branching arms, or vanes, with vertical limbs that look like the strings of a harp or lyre.

A deep sea Harp Sponge. Photo from MBARI

Don't let the delicate beauty of this bad-boy-Sponge-Bob fool you. Those branching limbs are covered with barbed hooks that trap their prey. Then, the sponge encapsulates them in a digestive membrane, dissolving them into a fish-smoothie that it can absorb through its pores. Yummmm.

Here's another look.

 Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the ocean...