Enormous Sponge Discovered off Coast of Hawaii by Deep-Sea Explorers
Posted on May 27, 2016
Deep-sea explorers aboard the NOAA Okeanos Explorer discovered a massive sponge during an expedition to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The sponge is the largest specimen ever reported. It is estimated to be 3.5 meters long (11 feet), 2 meters wide (6.5 feet) and 1.5 meters tall (4.9 feet).The sponge was about the size of the ROV. NPR notes that the sponge is about the size of a minivan. Footage of the sponge was captured by the ROVSs Deep Discoverer and Seirios during a dive within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
The sponge may also be thousands of years old. The researchers write in a report published in Marine Biodiversity: "While not much is known about the lifespan of sponges, some massive species found in shallow waters (<30 m) are estimated to live for more than 2300 years."
The researchers also say that "the finding of such a large organism as that reported here highlights the value of using deep-diving technologies in surveying the deepest parts of our oceans, which remain largely unexplored."
You can watch a video of the monster sponge discovery here. About 2:15 minutes into the video one of the researchers say, "Oh my goodness where did this guy come from? Holy Cow!" Another researcher says, "This is the largest thing I've seen underwater."