Science

World’s Largest Sponge Discovered In Waters Off Hawaiian Islands

The simple sponge has a ridiculous lifespan and one recently discovered sponge is roughly the size of a minivan and is likely hundreds if not thousands of years old. The discovery marks the arrival of the largest ever reported at three-and-a-half meters long.

World's Largest Sponge Discovered In Waters Off Hawaiian Islands

The ancient sponge is one of the most simple creatures

The sponge pays it forward, it filters seawater, provides a home for other creatures if large enough, recycles nutrients and if given proper conditions is rewarded for its diligence and altruism with a lifespan that can reach an estimated (near) 2500 years.

Last year, Daniel Wagner of the NOAA Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument, spotted something that just couldn’t be the case, a sponge that was the size of a Toyota Rav-4. The largest known member of the Rossellidae family was captured on video by two different submersibles in a conservation area that hosts over 7000 types of sea life.

This sponge is deep, not given its intelligence but the fact that it was found at a depth of over 6400 feet. There is almost an ironic contradiction to the find at this depth given that the largest sponge (technically a colony of connected sponges) discovered prior was found in very shallow waters off the coast of British Colombia in Canada.

While this particular giant  was alive well before the Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument was given its protected status, funding and appreciation. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that it was found in a protected area and shows why we should pay a bit of your taxes on national works and for that matter NASA.

“A lot of organisms in deep seas grow very slowly, so they need their habitats to remain stable over a long time to be able to grow larger and larger,” Wagner says.

Once again, for the sake of the sponge its age remains unknown. “Sponges don’t have things like growth rings that can be used to estimate age,” Wagner says. “We do know, however, that several coral species that live at those depths can live to multiple hundred to even a few thousand years: the oldest one is 4500 years. Thus, my best guess is that this is likely a very old sponge on the order of century to millennia.”