The Carnivorous Harp Sponge
Deep sea is full with weird looking animals. The lyre or harp sponge is one of them. It looks like a lyre, a Greek classical stringed musical instrument. In fact, it is try to imagine that thing is a living, breathing creature.
MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) is a private nonprofit organization that is working hard to save our oceans and create awareness among people. Four eminent oceanographers of MBAR I - Welton L. Lee, Henry M Reiswig, William C. Austin, and Lonny Lundsten has discovered that weird animal near the coast of California in 2013. They did it by using a deep sea robot which came back with two specimens and some interesting footages.
The Lyre of the Mermaids
The Harp Sponge or Chondrocladia lyra lives in the deep ocean at an average depth of 10,800–11,500 feet (3,300–3,500 m). It copes with the darkness and intense pressure of the water perfectly. The sponge has root like rhizoid to attach themselves to the sea floor.
2 to 6 horizontal veins grow from the top of the rhizoid. These veins radiate out from center to cover more area to get more food from the ocean current. The veins spread out to equal distance from the center. 15 to 20 branches are attached with these veins. These branches grow vertically and give it a harp like appearance. There is a ball shaped filament on top of each branch. There are tiny hooks covering the branches. This arrangement helps the sponge to catch prey. They grow 50 to 60 cm in length.
The Silent Killer
Sponges are not known as predator animals. We know them as filter feeders- eating tiny plankton and organic materials by filtering sea water. But the lyre sponge is an active carnivore. No, it will not go for human flesh but the small crustaceans are another matter. It waits for the floating crustaceans in the ocean current. The Velcro like tiny hooks of the branches of the animal catch prey and after that it is secured with a digestive membrane. The unfortunate critter is digested at that spot.
Look at the MBARI video of this animal lurking under the ocean.
The ball shaped filaments are the reproductive organs of the C. lyra. Packets of sperms are released by the sponges in the current. These packets are being caught by the branches of other sponges. After that the fertilization takes place. After the fertilization, the part containing the eggs swells. After a certain period, the swelled part becomes detached from the mothers body and becomes a newborn baby sponge.
The harp or lyre sponge is an example of how life can fit itself to the most inhospitable environments like a dark, deep ocean floor. Its habitat lacks food and so the animal evolved to cover a larger area by growing veins in opposite directions.
If you like this article then you is a nature and animal lover. Please, spread your ideal to others so that we can save this beautiful world with all its pristine beauty. A single person can do a lot. No, you are not a simple common people because no man or woman is like another one. So, you can do it. May the beauty of the harp sponge inspire you to save the oceans.
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