Prickly tube – sponge

Prickly tube – sponge

Just like fish there are many different types of sponges in the sea and although when you look at it you may not think that it is an animal, it actually is! There are over 6000 species of sponges and most live in the marine environment. This prickly tube – sponge is a sponge found in the Red Sea, its complex name is Callyspongia crassa. It can reach around 50 cm and can be characterized by its flexible brown tubes. It weighs up to around 20pounds and has an amazing life span of up to 2300 years!

Sponges are relatively simple multi-celled animals. They do not have tissues or organs like some animals do; rather, they have specialized cells to perform necessary functions. These cells each have a job. Some are in charge of digestion, some reproduction, some bringing in water so the sponge can filter feed, and some are used for getting rid of wastes.

The skeleton of a sponge is formed from spicules which are made of a glass like material or calcareous materials and a spongin which is a protein that supports the spicules. They do not have a nervous system so that means that they do not move when they are touched, so you can really get up close and check them out!

 Upon sight it is admiring and in some way looks like abstract decoration however it is more useful than it looks! It is a filter feeder which means that it filters water around it for nutrients. As water filters through a sponge's porous exterior, the sponge gains some motion, receives food and oxygen, and dispels waste. Inside the sponge, tiny hairlike structures called flagella create currents to filter bacteria out of the sponge's cells and trap food within them.

Sponges can remove up to 95% of bacteria in the water and 90% of dissolved organic carbon. 

In a scientific eye, Sponges are champions of bioactive producers because of the variety of products that have been found from them. Most bioactive compounds extracted from sponges were classified into antibiotic, antiviral, antitumor, and anti-inflammatory. Two marine sponge species were collected during winter 2016 from the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea, Egypt with Callyspongia crassa and Callyspongia siphonella. The collected sponge species belong to the family Callyspongia. The sponge samples were extracted by ethanol and investigated as a promising source of natural products which can be used as antitumor, antiviral, and antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory agents.

In general sponges do not suffer much threat from prey as they are not tasty to other marine animals, they can contain toxins and their structure does not make them easy to digest. However the sea turtle does feast on sponges.

Sponges reproduce both sexually and asexually. Sexual reproduction occurs through the production of egg and sperm. In some species, these gametes are from the same individual; in others, separate individuals produce eggs and sperm. Fertilization occurs when the gametes are brought into the sponge by currents of water. A larva is formed, and it settles on a substrate where it becomes attached to the rest of its life.

Asexual reproduction occurs by budding, which happens when a part of a sponge is broken off, or one of its branch tips is constricted, and then this small piece grows into a new sponge. They may also reproduce asexually by producing packets of cells called gemmules.