The azure vase sponge ( Callyspongia plicifera ).

The azure vase sponge (Callyspongia plicifera).

Various species of sponges often wash ashore on Sanibel’s beaches. These sessile (meaning immobile) creatures are animals, although biologists once thought they were plants! Sponges can be found worldwide, from polar to tropical regions. They live in shallow and deep waters and some even live in fresh water. Here are five facts about one of our wrackline favorites!

1.    Early fossil records show that sponges inhabited Earth around 600 million years ago. That is a mighty long time for an animal without a complex nervous, digestive, or circulatory system!

2.    Some deep-water sponges can live to be over 200 years old.

3.    Sponges are master filters. They can filter an amount of water 100,000 times their size each day! That means a basketball-sized sponge could filter an entire residential pool in one day. 

4.    Sponges often use chemicals to deter predators from eating them. Scientists have discovered that some of these chemicals may have potential to treat cancer and HIV.

5.    The most abundant sponges in SWFL are loggerhead sponges, vase sponges, sheepswool sponges, glove sponges and tube sponges!

A diver examines a yellow tube sponge ( Aplysina fistularis ). 

A diver examines a yellow tube sponge (Aplysina fistularis).