Sponge – Plant or Animal?
Sponges are animals, but very strange. They don’t have the body parts and don’t even move around. They stay attached to an underwater rock or coral reef and look like plants. That’s why for a long time people thought sponges were plants.
There are nearly 5,000 different kinds of sponges. Most of them live in the ocean, but a few live in freshwater.
They are different in shapes: may be flat like spreading moss or like trees with branching arms.
A sponge’s body is a soft mass of cells supported by a skeleton. Holes in a sponge’s skin let water flow inside.
A sponge gets oxygen to breathe from water through its body. They eat by straining the water around them. All sponges feed on tiny plankton. On average, they eat about 2/3 of their own weight. The water enters the body through a large number of openings, but it always leaves through a single opening.
Sponges reproduce both by sexual and asexual means.
Sponges have an amazing power of regeneration. They are capable of growing into a new individual from even the tiniest fragment of the body.
Fish and sea slugs feed on marine sponges.
Some sponges attach themselves to crab shells and travel with them.
The ancient Greeks and Romans used sponges to pad their armor and helmets. People still use sponges for bathing, painting, and for making medicines. The first drug that had been created for the treatment of cancer – cytosine arabinoside, was made of the body of these animals. They also can be used to stop bleeding.
Sea sponges clean the water. In the deep waters of the ocean sponges can live up to 200 years.
Dolphins eat sponges as “prophylactic treatment” of dirt and bacteria in the stomach.
In America, the sponges are used in 95% car wash.