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The Secret Life of Sponges

From Audio: 012 - Natural history collections with James Maclaine and Andrew Stewart

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station description Discussion about all things deep-sea science.
The Deep-Sea Podcast
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Duration: 03:39
Scientists have discovered that hundred-year-old artic sea sponges—previously thought to be immobile—are moving around.
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Scientists have discovered that hundred-year-old artic sea sponges—previously thought to be immobile—are moving around. What does this mean about the secret life of sponges, do they go on gap years? What, if anything, is coordinating their activities? We may not have the answers, yet, but we suspect it's vaguely sinister.
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And the final story, there's an area called the lang South Ridge which is a permanently ice covered area of the arctic. And a team we're investigating this with a toad camera system and they found the whole area was covered in dense demo sponges, basically demo sponges are like 90% of sponges. They have sponge in which is like a modified form of collagen and it's flexible and then they have silicosis are made of silicon speckles. So they have this flexible protein and then these little hard parts that give them their structure and give them their shape. And when they were looking back at the videos it really looks like these sponges have been moving and leaving little trails of these speckles behind them like a snail trail. Really like a snail trail. It really is. They look like the garden slugs and these things can live for like hundreds of years. So I dread to think actually how fast this movement is and they have no muscles. They have no like means of locomotion or local notary structures. Although this has been reported in entrusting sponges. So the ones that grow over things like a matte, apparently they show a little bit of movement but they're quite structurally different. These are the big vast shaped sponges, the big sort of open ones. And yeah, they're trundling around the seabed, not super small distances either. You can like see its whole life trailing behind. It's been 200 years. It's such a wild card paper they're running about when we're not looking like a toy story but with changes. Yes, there behind the camera. So like we're watching all the fish of the front and all these sponges are running around in the background. I think we don't have any. Yeah, don't ask me how secret. So a few possible reasons for this is moving to improve food acquisition. So moving to where they can filter more food from the water and the dispersal of juveniles. So I think quite a few of them seem to be juveniles and then they kind of move away from the parent in order to set up shop and they go on a gap year basically they go and discover themselves, but it probably takes about a decade. The gap essentially there are no rush, their arctic sponges, nothing fast happens in the arctic. They can take their time and they weren't just sliding down the slopes or anything like that because it seems that most of them were moving uphill which would make sense if it was a feeding thing if they wanted to get up into the water current and away from the boundary layer. And like you can see from some of the papers, some of them are moving in multiple directions. So it can't just be that they are all just off sliding. That's what led me to the thing that really blew my mind with, you know, if they do tend to go uphill and if there are changes in direction then they're responding to something and how is that coordinated? It's a spongy there, climb the mold that can solve mazes and I'm like, I don't understand how you're doing that and why are you doing a better job than me when I have a brain? This is not fair say if it's about food, if it's about getting up and filtering in the current, the part that's getting the stimulus, the parts that is knowing that it's better in this direction and this direction is quite far away from the part doing the moving. Yeah, but it's like jellyfish, how have they been so successful for so long and I don't understand what you're doing. Where are you going? Is this enough for you? Are you happy? How have you come to these decisions? Yeah, they're like three lines of code. Yeah, it's cold. Move black. I don't want them to like come up from the arctic because they feel like they could take over. If they started thinking it could get dangerous are likely just go. It's immediately malicious. It's immediately thereafter. Us. Nothing good comes from the deep sea. Tom we should stop angering it. We should stop crashing things into it and stealing things that loves us.
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