Visualization flow of water in a sponge - Aquarius Reef Base ; Fluorescein dye is used to visualize how water is absorbed at the outside and then exhausted by a sponge.The Caribbean barrel sponge, Xestospongia muta, is a large and common member of the coral reef communities at depths greater than 10 m, and has been called the “redwood of the deep”, due to its up to 2000 year lifespan as well as its size and color. Despite its prominence, high biomass and importance to habitat complexity and reef health, very little is know about the basic biology of this massive sponge, including rates of mortality and recruitment, reproduction, growth and age. Like reef corals, this sponge is subject to bleaching and subsequent mortality.
With support from NOAA's Aquarius Reef Base at UNCW, NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, a research group has been monitoring populations of X. muta in the Florida Keys since 1997.
Christoph Gerigk / Biosphoto
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