VIRTUAL EXPLORATIONS > ARCHIVED EXPLORATIONS > CREEP INTO THE DEEP 2015
Part 5: Glass Sponges, Sea Lily and Amphipods
Guest Contributor: Dr. Tammy Frank, Chief Scientist and Deep-sea Explorer
Posted July 22, 2015:
Here are a couple more gorgeous creatures we found.
I just love this glass sponge shown below. It is so beautiful, it like spun glass. With the sea lily on top, it looks like such a delicate flowering plant. A sea lily is in the same group as seastars and sea urchins. In a world with very little substrate, the sponge makes a lovely substrate for a sea lily.
As we were collecting the glass sponge, we saw yellow things inside. We asked the ROV pilot to tip the claw towards us (the camera) so we could see better. They were tiny amphipods (relatives of shrimp). These glass sponges always seem to have amphipods or shrimp associated with them. Often, the spicules of the sponge close off the opening. The shrimp (sometimes a male and female pair) are trapped inside. They do quite well because they’re filter feeders like the sponge. The sponge is in the right position to capture food carried by the current, which means the amphipods inside can too.
One more interesting tidbit. In some Asian cultures, the glass sponge and the mating pair inside, are dried and given as a wedding gift as a sign of everlasting love. It’s called a venus flower basket.
I wonder what we’ll find on our next dive!