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Scientists discover largest sponge known during deep-sea exploration

May 25, 2016 A sponge the size of a minivan, the largest on record, was found last summer during a deep-sea expedition in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
A sponge the size of a minivan, the largest on record, was found in summer 2015 during a deep-sea expedition in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Today, Marine Biodiversity published a studyoffsite link describing the 12 foot by 7 foot sponge that was found at depth of 7,000 feet. The discovery was documented during an expedition aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer that used remotely-operated vehicles to explore deep-water habitats in the monument. 

“The largest portion of our planet lies in deep waters, the vast majority of which has never been explored,” said Papahānaumokuākea research specialist Daniel Wagner, Ph.D, science lead for the expedition with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “Finding such an enormous and presumably old sponge emphasizes how much can be learned from studying deep and pristine environments such as those found in the remote Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.”

While not much is known about the lifespan of sponges, some massive species found in shallow waters are estimated to live more than 2,300 years.

A sponge the size of a minivan, the largest on record, was found in summer 2015 during a deep-sea expedition in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off Hawaii.
Scientists discover largest sponge known
A sponge the size of a minivan, the largest on record, was found in summer 2015 during a deep-sea expedition in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off Hawaii. (NOAA)