Many people think that sea sponges are not living organisms, or they think they are so they think they are a type of aquatic plants, but the truth is that they are invertebrate animals. We classify the sea sponges, sea sponges or poriferous inside the phylum Porifera. These are animals that only live in aquatic environments, do not have movement and are one of the simplest groups of animals that exist, since they lack true tissues. In this article by Ecologist Verde, we analyze the sea sponge, what is it and its characteristics.
Most of the sea or poriferous sponges They do not have corporal symmetry, except for a few species that present radial symmetry (simple symmetry in which an oral and an aboral corporal end differ). Its most distinctive characteristic and that gives the name to the edge is that they have bodies that are formed by a system of pores and channels in which the water flows and that serve as a method to feed themselves and obtain oxygen.
As we mentioned, these animals lack true tissues, instead they have a large number of totipotent cells, which are capable of differentiating into the cell type that the animal requires. This characteristic makes them very versatile animals and great capacity for body regeneration, in case of mass loss.
The shape of the different kinds of sea sponges It can vary, however, all have a similar basic structure. This is a large central hole in the upper part of the body (osculum), which pumps the water that circulates throughout the animal's body, and body walls filled with pores of different sizes, through which the water circulates.
Among all its cells, there is an exclusive one of the sea sponges, are the choanocytes. These are cells that are specialized in water filtration, process necessary to obtain food. They are cells equipped with a flagellum and microvilli on their surface (as if they were flexible and mobile hairs), which promote water circulation.
Sea sponges are animals with an incredible adaptability to a great variety of conditions and situations, something that for other animals would be impossible. They are capable of living even when the waters in which they live are polluted by hydrocarbons, metals or other substances. Sea sponges have few natural predators, as they have a hard skeleton of spicules and high toxicity. This is why it is possible to find sea sponges in almost all seas and oceans of the world. Among the sites best known for the large number of porifers present are the Western Mediterranean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and the seas of Japan.
However, there is a factor that especially affects sea sponges and that is climate change. Climate change kills thousands of sea sponges a year and some undergo adaptations to survive. Therefore, these marine animals are considered a good indicator of this change.
Since the sea or poriferous sponges They are sessile animals, they live fixed to the seabed, being able to live at great depths or more superficially. Although, most porifers prefer to live in an environment without too much sunlight.
Sponges or porifers feed mainly on small organic particles dissolved in seawater by means of a filtration mechanism, as we have commented before. They can also feed on plankton and small bacteria.
In addition, these marine animals can live in symbiosis with bacteria or unicellular organisms, which facilitate access to food. In addition, many serve as a refuge for a wide variety of fish species.
Another frequent question before these peculiar animals is how the sea sponge reproduces. Thus, answering this question, we clarify that the reproduction of sea sponges can be asexual or sexual.
In the asexual reproduction, the totipotent cells in your body differentiate into all types of cells to create a new sponge. For the sexual reproductionAlthough most sponges are hermaphroditic, they need sexual reproduction, in which sperm and eggs develop from choanocytes and are expelled into the water, where fertilization occurs. These then go through four larval phases, until they become the adult individual.
As curiosities, the sea sponges produce toxic substances or antibiotics, many of which are used in the pharmaceutical industry to produce important drugs.
Also, sea sponges have been used to personal hygiene, particularly of the genres Spongia and Hypospongiaas they have a more flexible exoskeleton. Although this use is less and less due to the growth in the use and production of synthetic sponges.
If you liked knowing all this about the sea sponges, sea sponges or porifers and you want to learn about the life of the oceans, discover more in this other article by Green Ecologist about The biodiversity of the oceans.
If you want to read more articles similar to Sea sponge: what it is and characteristics, we recommend that you enter our Wild Animals category.