While deep-sea explorers were going through the coast of Hawaii in 2015, they have spotted “the largest thing they have ever seen” – a sea sponge about the size of a minivan.
The researchers were from the Okeanos Explorer, “America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration, the only federally funded U.S. ship assigned to systematically explore our largely unknown ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge.”
Based on the report, the sea sponge happens to be the largest reported in the literature, which measures about 11.5 feet long, more than 6.5 feet wide and 4.9 feet high. It belongs to the hexactinellid family Rossellidae and subfamily Lanuginellinae
According to the study posted by the Marine Biodiversity, sea sponges are important in maintaining the abundance and diversity. To add, large ones have several ecosystem tasks, including “filtering large amounts of seawater, as well as providing important habitat to a myriad of invertebrate and microbial species.”
The life span of sponges are not yet confirmed, especially those that are found under deep water. Sponges found in shallow water can last for more than 2300 years if left unscathed.
The presence of the largest sea sponge in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument calls for immediate actions to ensure that the area must be well-taken care of through “highest conservation measures available.” This will ensure that it will not be damaged and to nurture probable sea sponges living within the area.
Researchers from the Okeanos Explorer said, “We’re going to all these places that we’ve never been before, going to depths that we haven’t been before, so we don’t really know what we’re going to find.” Surely, the sea has several unexplored areas where great discoveries may unveil.