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December 13, 2013

I see carnivorous sponges



No, it’s not a figment of my imagination haunting my nightmares, but a real life form found by Oceana at the Chella bank, a seamount just off the southeast coast of Spain. But this place holds even more secrets than meat-eating sponges; it’s practically brimming with biodiversity. Deep-sea coral reefs, cetaceans, octopuses, sharks and a multitude of fish can all be found around this set of elevations, with the highest  one found at 80 meters deep.

Oceana has been here many times, going as deep as 700 meters. In the most recent years we’ve been responsible for documenting the Seco de los Olivos, as it’s called in Spanish, as a partner of the LIFE+ INDEMARES project  of the European Union, with the objective of turning it into a marine protected area within the Natura 2000 Network. The findings during these expeditions have been nothing short of astonishing, or as Ricardo Aguilar, Research Director of Oceana in Europe puts it,

“The images obtained have confirmed the fact that Seco de los Olivos is one of the marine areas with the highest environmental interests in Spain.”

The project has successfully achieved what it had set out to do – to protect and conserve the life at the Chella bank from human caused pressure. Next year, the Seco de los Olivos will officially be a protected area. 

So yes, I see carnivorous sponges, and I will be able to keep seeing them in the future. And now you can, too, thanks to LIFE+ INDEMARES and Oceana. (Actually to be honest, the sponge is not super-cool looking, it has a great name, but that’s about all it has going for it. I would much rather recommend you take a look at these other cool creatures living at the Chella bank).