Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Researchers discover how sea sponges devour so much carbon, but never grow

Sea sponges consume half their weight in "dissolved organic carbon" every day, but they never grow. (Watts up with that) Adding to the mystery, sea sponges "have one of the fastest cell division rates ever measured." So what's going on? As it turns out, the sponges simply shed newly divided, healthy cells. This provides nourishment for other creatures in the coral reefs where sea sponges thrive.

It's pretty remarkable. Sea sponges take something other creatures can't consume (dissolved organic carbon) and turn it into something they can eat. This may be one reason coral reefs somehow support "some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet" despite existing in "marine deserts."

So does this mean coral reefs act as a carbon sink? Just as forests on land? If so, that would put added value, in a warming world, on these incredible habitats that are "
on the brink of collapse."

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.