Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/12/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Glass sponges could be on the winning end of climate change

One invertebrate community on the ocean floor seems to be benefiting from climate change and the melting of glacial shelves. The mysterious, beautiful glass sponge has taken root on the ocean floor in the wake of the disintegration of the Larsen A ice shelf in Antarctica disintegrated 20 years ago. Glass sponges were originally believed to have taken long periods to take root, but with the sudden influx of entire communities being discovered, the life form may be one the few to benefit from climate change.

Populations of glass sponges, or Hexactinellida have tripled between 2007 and 2011, allowing them to completely take over the seafloor.

Populations of glass sponges, or Hexactinellida have tripled between 2007 and 2011, allowing them to completely take over the seafloor.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/12/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Glass sponges, Antarctica, Larsen A ice shelf, photosynthesis


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Populations of glass sponges, or Hexactinellida have tripled between 2007 and 2011, allowing them to completely take over the seafloor.

"The shelf broke off, split into tiny pieces and was gone in a couple of weeks," lead researcher Claudio Richter, a biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, says. "Now the benthos, which we believed would take decades or centuries to move and change, is transforming quickly in just a matter of years."

Scientists originally believed that seafloor communities were very poor as animals could only get food when strong currents brought it in, Richter says. The biologist likens the thick ice shelf to a large balcony attached to a house or building, blocking the sun, which gives organisms at the base of the marine food chain energy.

Photo of a typical glass sponge community in Antarctica

Photo of a typical glass sponge community in Antarctica's eastern Weddell Sea


"If you have a balcony that extends really far out, you would have a difficult time growing vegetables beneath it," Richter says.

Warming waters in Antarctica's Weddell Sea in 1995 caused the Larsen A ice shelf to give way. Sunlight bathed the surface waters afterwards, allowing phytoplankton and ice algae, fed by photosynthesis, to grow. This food was then passed down to the seafloor, helping sponges, sea squirts and other animals thrive.

Scientists in 2007 discovered communities of deep-sea invertebrates that are normally found at depths of 3,300 feet or more. Scientists also saw occasional small glass sponges and large populations of fast-growing sea squirts, which dominated the seafloor.

Returning to the area in 2011, Richter and his colleagues and maneuvered their ROV over the original area surveyed in 2007. The seafloor changed dramatically in just four years: Predatory species such as sea stars were scarce in both surveys, but glass sponges had taken over the seafloor. However, the pioneering species of sea squirts had all but disappeared.

Photo of a typical glass sponge community in Antarctica

Photo of a typical glass sponge community in Antarctica's eastern Weddell Sea


"The sponges are now three times more numerous and two times as big as before," Richter said. What's even more astounding, he adds, is that satellite images show the area was only productive (in terms of phytoplankton and algae growth) for two out of the four years between the two surveys.

Previous research previously suggested that hexactinellid species live long, slow lives. Other research suggests the animals have a very slow metabolism, allowing them to live for 10,000 years or more. Recent findings, taken together with other work, suggest that Antarctic glass sponges that have endured arrested growth for decades can undergo booming periods that allow them to quickly colonize new areas.

"It's a complex issue," Richter said. "It's difficult to predict the evolution of how things develop, but for now, the sponges seem to be gaining pace."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Green

NASA steps up in discovering extraterrestrial life Watch

Image of NASA plans to bring astronauts to Mars by 2020 to search for any possible signs of life.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

NASA's chief scientist Ellen Stofan, stated at a Washington panel discussion, that in a decade or so, there will be strong indications of life outside Earth. Stofan added that "aliens" doesn't necessarily refer to "little green men" but, this could mean "little ... continue reading


Extremely rare 'adorable' Pocket Shark discovered in Gulf of Mexico Watch

Image of The Pocket Shark is a marine animal with

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thirty-six years ago, a pocket shark was discovered off the Peru coast, and just recently, another pocket shark, reported to be only the second one seen by humans, was discovered in a study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ... continue reading


Is Yellowstone's supervolcano ready to blow? Scientists find thousands of cubic miles of magma under volcano Watch

Image of Thousands of cubic miles of magma exists under Yellowstone national park that has only recently been discovered and mapped.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Scientists have completed mapping out a new reservoir of magma underneath Yellowstone's massive supervolcano. The magma was found about 12 to 28 miles beneath the surface of the volcano and with computer mapping technology scientists have determined that it is ... continue reading


New discovery on mysterious vampire squid shocks scientists Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The number of species we have successfully discovered throughout history are only about a fifth of the speculated total number of them coexisting with us. In a recent discovery, it was found that the vampire squid has distinct difference from the true squid we know of. ... continue reading


'Apocalyptic' dust storms leave experts speechless, causes remain unclear Watch

Image of The phenomenon has occurred over decades in the past, according to a European scientist.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Unexplained phenomena of strong dust storms are sweeping cities all over the globe, blocking the sun and darkening the day. The massive dust storms, known as haboob in Arabic, begun polluting some parts of the world at the beginning of the year. Theories surfaced as ... continue reading


What NASA found on Mars will shock you! Watch

Image of Liquid water has been found in Martian soil, but that doesn't mean life is likely to be found.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There is liquid water on Mars, Nasa has announced following tests done by the Curiosity rover. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This news contradicts decades of thought that Earth's neighbor was too cold and arid for liquid water to exist, and may mean that ... continue reading


Experts fear massive asteroid will hit Earth in next 3 years Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A huge asteroid, with an estimated size of 10 to 40m, is expected to come in contact with Earth, closer than it did the last time. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Asteroid 2012 TC4 was approximated at about the size of the Statue of Liberty from the torch ... continue reading


Gray whale swims from Russia to Mexico in 172 days, breaking all known records Watch

Image of Before Vavara's accomplishment, the title of the longest-migrating mammal belonged to the humpback whale.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A female western gray whale from Russia now holds the record as the mammal with the longest known migration, researchers say. Named Vavara, which is the Russian equivalent fro "Barbara," the plucky whale swam a total of 13,988 miles in 172 days. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Are farmers stealing precious water away from California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta? Watch

Image of As California enters the fourth year of drought, huge amounts of water are mysteriously vanishing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and farmers whose families for generations have tilled fertile soil there are the prime suspects.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Entering its fourth year of drought, large amounts of water is mysteriously vanishing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Farmers who have used the delta for generations are the prime suspects. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Complaints from two large ... continue reading


Small songbirds complete extraordinary nonstop flights across the Atlantic Ocean Watch

Image of The blackpoll warbler songbirds (Setophaga striata) migrate every autumn from Vermont and Nova Scotia in New England to Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Greater Antilles islands in South America.

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Using backpack flight recorders, scientists have discovered that the blackpoll warbler songbirds are able fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. These tiny songbirds, weighing about 4.2 ounces (119 grams), were able to complete the flight without a stop for over 1,410 ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 11:1-18
1 The apostles and the brothers in Judaea heard that ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 42:2-3; 43:3, 4
2 I thirst for God, the living God; when shall I go ... Read More

Gospel, John 10:1-10
1 'In all truth I tell you, anyone who does not enter ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 27th, 2015 Image

St. Zita
April 27: St. Zita was born into a poor but holy Christian family. Her ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter