The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have stumbled across a sponge that is3.6 by 2.1 meters (12 by 7 feet)in size, located some 2,100 meters (7,000 feet) deep into the waters of Papahnaumokukea Marine National Monument inHawaii.
Recently released images and footage come from a remotelyoperated vehicle as part of a NOAA Okeanos Explorer ship expeditionthat took place in the summer of 2015.
The sponge is also featured in this months Marine Biodiversity journal. In the study, the scientistsdetail how its discovery underscores the need to protect this area of the ocean with strict conservation measures.
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? NOAA
They might not be lookers, but sea sponges are fascinating creatures. According to genetic analyses by scientists at theMassachusetts Institute of Technology, sea sponges were likelythe first animals on Earth,emergingsome 640 million years ago. Some scientists even believe that all animal life originated from these humble sponges.
The largest portion of our planet lies in deep waters, the vast majority of which has never been explored, said lead expedition researcher Daniel Wagner in a NOAA statement.Finding such an enormous and presumably old sponge emphasizes how much can be learned from studying deep and pristine environments such as those found in the remote Papahnaumokukea Marine National Monument.
When he says old, he means old. Some species of sponges have been recorded to be more than 2,300 years old. Wagner told New Scientistthat its likely this particular sponge is hundreds, ifnot thousands, of years old.
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