Gesundheit! Sea sponges caught sneezing on camera

By AG STAFF 12 August 2022
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We’re mesmerised by this footage of a sea sponge sneezing.

Far from the preserve of humans – you’ve likely seen your pet do it – sneezing requires no nervous system or even a nose(!) and is as old as some of the world’s first multicellular animals: sponges, which have been around for some 600 million years.

Recent research published in Current Biology by Jasper de Goeij, a marine ecologist at the University of Amsterdam, and his colleagues has found that sponges “sneeze” in what seems to be a self-cleaning technique, releasing waste particles in mucus through their ostia (little mouths).

Sneezing Indo-Pacific sponge Chelonaplysilla. Video by Current Biology/Kornder et al.

“A sponge is basically an animal that has a lot of little mouths and one, or several, larger outflow openings, known as oscula [where water flows out].

After comprehensive study, the researchers have come to the conclusion that sneezing out waste-laden mucus is a widespread tactic among sponges the world over.

As for what becomes of the mucous once it’s out, well Jasper and his mates say the sea sponges’ snot helps feed other marine organisms.

Let’s hope so, or else we’re all swimming in a sea full of snot…

Related: The crabs that wear sea sponges like a hat