Antarctic Glass Sponges Live Life in Fast Lane
Explosion in glass sponge population forces researchers to rethink how animals live in Antarctic.
Researchers have found a "boomtown" of sponges. In a study published July 11 in the journal Current Biology, they report on the explosion of a community of glass sponges—organisms with skeletons made of silica, a mineral component of glass—on the seafloor below where an enormous ice shelf used to be.
These sponges—filter feeders not known for their rapid development—doubled in biomass and tripled in number over the course of two growing seasons.
Everyone believed that glass sponges in this area wouldn't grow and expand so rapidly, said Claudio Richter, a marine biologist at the Alfred-Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, and a study co-author.
Antarctic sponges are famous for being the slowest of the slow-growing, said David Barnes,