Man Eating Sponges

Be careful there are 9 new species of carnivorous sponges. Luckily they are all deep sea so your chances of encountering one on any day are limited. But when the squid overlords take over they may call upon the sponges for the battle. You may not be scared but Vacelet (2006) describes how these are predators with spicules that are hooked for capturing invertebrate prey. Image from Vacelet (2006 Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society).


Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. 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. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. 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.

5 Replies to “Man Eating Sponges”

  1. How do they eat flesh? What makes them so awesome, for I know they are, I just want to know how?

  2. Very interesting. Can the case be made that sponges “are a Homeland Security Issue.” ??


  3. Well they are not crinoids! I don’t think so but this is intuition and I cannot envisage the mechanism by which this would occur. They are flesh eaters of small zooplankton hanging near the bottom. The exact mechanism I am unclear about but will find out just for you! With those hooks I think they should definitely be our number one priority. I guess this means I can’t board a plane with one!

  4. I do believe they have small filaments, that hook and capture the small prey trapping them in the sponge itself. Research showed that the prey kept struggling to free itself for hours, hence they do not release any toxins or paralyzing agents. After several days the filament hooks that caught the prey grow and envelope the food, and the food is digested into the sponge.

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