Weekly Sponge-date 2 – The Harpbringer of Death

Think that every sponge is a happy, water-pumping shrimp-harbouring hippy? You clearly have not met the “Harp sponge” (Chondrocladia lyra).  Despite its relatively tame name, the only tune that this sponge can play is the funeral march as crustacean after crustacean meets their demise. In fact, the only resemblance this sponge has to a harp is its shape, which is specialised to catch as much prey as possible. Never fear, you’ll not encounter this “harpbringer” of doom unless you happen to be taking a casual swim at a depth of 3300m.

The human race was blissfully unaware of this monstrosity until 2012 when it was discovered by a group of scientists, causing lack of sleep for sponge enthusiasts the world over. Of course, not everyone fears harp-shaped killer sponges as I do. This sponge has actually been listed as one of the top ten species discovered in 2012, outcompeting 140 nominated species. Would I get an award if sat around ensnaring innocent crustaceans on Velcro-like hooks? I don’t think so. Though it has to be said, the ability of this sponge to ensnare and engulf captured prey by surrounding them in a digestive membrane is somewhat impressive (if a bit intimidating).

Some of the more foolharpy of you may wish to watch the above youtube clip uploaded by “LiveScienceVideos”.

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