New benthic species discovered off the coast of California

You might think all the animals that live in the ocean are floating throughout the sea, but there are entire communities of benthic animals and plants that live in a two-dimensional way just like we do on land. ‘Benthos’ are animals and plants that live in or on the ocean floor. These benthic animals live by one of three strategies: 1) attachment to a firm surface, 2) free movement on the ocean floor, 3) burrowing in the sediment. Sometimes a species may live by more than one of these strategies.

Recently, a newly described benthic animal was discovered in the deep-sea off the coast of California. Here is a video produced by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium and Research Institute of the carnivorous sponge, known as the harp sponge (Chondrocladia lyra).  It got the common name – harp – because the sponge has evolved up to 6 veins with structures fanning out from the spine to maximize ocean currents. The elaborate ribs have velcro-like hooks used to ensnare tiny prey and are also useful for distributing eggs. These animals use a rhizoid to anchor itself to the sea floor.

Comments

  1. What a wonderful creature – and (for the dim layman) an object-lesson clear explanation with enough info & illustration but not too long / detailed. Would make a poor pet, though.

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