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We spent Saturday evening discussing the sponge phenomenon and after some research (I won´t share the out of control scientific assumptions that were made after a few beers) it is inconclusive as to whether the sponges are curently spawning knowing that they have just been through a hurricane or if they are reproducing because it is that time of year. Damn, we were hopeing that we came up with a new theory and could become famous for our observations. Well, maybe we can still become famous as the theory is inconclusive. Maybe we should be addressing Dave as Dr. Dave not Senor Dave….hmmmm….

On an educational note, we did enjoy our reserach and decided to share our findings with you. The reefs are full of sponges of many varieties so the extra information can not be harmful, it can only enhance your next diving experience.

sponge – a multicellular animal (metazoa) below the tissue grade of construction. Sponges belong to the phylum Porifera. There are approximately 5,000 living species classified in three distinct groups, the Hexactinellida (glass sponges), the Demospongia, and the Calcarea (calcareous sponges). They are important components of a coral reef ecosystem. Sea sponges are the simplest of multi-cellular animals. A sea sponge is a bottom-dwelling creature, which attaches itself to something solid in a place where it can, hopefully, receive enough food to grow. The collar cells serve two purposes. First, they beat their flagella back and forth to force water through the sea sponge. The water brings in nutrients and oxygen, while it carries out waste and carbon dioxide. Second, the sticky collars of the collar cells pick up tiny bits of food brought in with the water. Another type of cell, called an amebocyte, takes the food to other cells within the sea sponge. Sea Sponges are very effective filter feeders, since they are able to capture and eat particles as small as bacteria as well as much larger particles.

Most sea sponges are hermaphroditic (having both sexes in one), but produce only one type of gamete per spawn. (i.e. some play the male role and the other plays the female role, even though they are both capable of playing either role). The sperm is released into the water column by the “male” sponge and finds its way to the “female” sponges, where fertilization occurs internally. Eventually, the planktonic larvae are released from the female sponge and float around in the water column as plankton for only a few days. They then settle down and start growing. The next time the sponges reproduce, they may change sexual roles.

This inforamtion does support in some wild and wonderful way the ´Dave´theory that the sponges know that they have been reduced in population after Wilma. In further research, this is not one site that can conclusively state that the sponges spawn at a certain time of year. What they do say is that the spawning does happen in cooperation with the moon…..full moon, spawning….though i hate to say it, this is the same to the female bodily functions as well…….so maybe we are not that far from being similar to other organisms…interesting…

So this concludes our scientific research for this week…before I get accused of going way to far on this…..

December is approaching, the newspapers were all ovewr the snowfall through central Europe and we heard that Canada also got a cold spell….so I think it is time for a quick trip to Mexico…all for the sake of research…..

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