Carnivorous Sponges

NOAA photo of a carnivorous sponge

Photo from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

How can a sponge catch prey when it just sits on the bottom of the ocean pumping water? It seems that even the sponge’s simple body plan has evolved a way to trap animals and then eat them.  Talk about Adaptability!

Recently, scientists have discovered carnivorous sponges living on the bottom of the deep sea. There’s not enough tiny food particles that reach the deep sea floor, so these sponges are adapted to feed in a different way. Instead of filtering out tiny particles, they trap larger prey like amphipods—a small crustacean. Once caught on microscopic hooks, the sponge then engulfs and digests the prey.


Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Video about the newly discovered carnivorous sponge species from MBARI

Watch the video Sponges: Origins