Carnivorous Sponge Video!

You ask and we deliver! And if you have ever had any doubt we are the baddest blog ever, we have carnivorous sponge video! Bolstered by a commenter about the mechansism of flesh eating sponges, I asked Dr. Vacelet to give some more insight into this process.

I was pointed to Vacelet & Duport (2004) Prey capture and digestion in the carnivorous sponge Asbestopluma hypogea (Porifera: Demospongiae). Zoomorphology 123: 179-190). Dr. Vacelet was also kind enough to provide this description.

The prey, mostly small crustaceans and other invertebrates provided with setae or thin appendages, is trapped on the surface of appendages of the sponges, which is lined by tiny hook-like spicules acting as Velcro. Then the cells of the sponge migrate towards the prey, and individually phagocytize and digest fragment of the prey. This is a very unusual phenomenon in pluricellular animals, a unique case in which a non-microscopic prey is digested in the absence of any digestive cavity. This has been investigated in one species, but is likely general for all the carnivorous sponges (family Cladorhizidae), which are deep-sea species usually a few cm high (not really dangerous for a diver…).

But it gets better, there is video (note this requires Real Player and you need to select Une eponge carnivore on the right side)

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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