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Largest sea sponge bleaching ever recorded in New Zealand

Largest sea sponge bleaching ever recorded in New Zealand
  • PublishedJune 24, 2022

Largest sea sponge

Sea sponges are simple marine animals that have been around for 600 million years. Their skeletons are dense and porous and well adapted to their particular habitat, adhering to various surfaces, from rocks and coral to soft sediments such as clay and sand. According to the National Ocean Service, they have also been known to attach themselves to floating debris.

According to scientists, The Guardian reports that New Zealand is currently experiencing the largest sea sponge bleaching ever recorded.

“To our knowledge, this is the largest scale and largest number of sponges bleached in a single reported event anywhere in the world…certainly in cold waters,” said James Bell, a marine ecologist, and professor at Victoria University of Wellington. As reported by The Guardian.

Last month, New Zealand’s south coast saw its sea sponges bleach for the first time. At first, scientists thought thousands of sea sponges had turned white, but a discovery of the country’s shores last month revealed that many more had bleached.

“There are at least millions of bleached sponges in those environments, maybe even millions, it’s one of the most abundant sponges in Fiordland, and so it’s a large-scale event,” Bell told The Independent.

Dr. Robert Smith, an oceanographer at the University of Otago, said New Zealand had experienced two record ocean heatwaves with temperatures five degrees above normal. The extreme temperatures began in some places last September and lasted 213 days, Smith said, adding that the duration of the temperature rise was unusual.

Largest sea sponge bleaching ever recorded in New Zealand

“On New Zealand’s northern and southern borders, we have seen the longest and strongest ocean heatwave in 40 years since satellite measurements of ocean temperatures began in 1981,” Smith told The Guardian.

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Even if bleaching doesn’t kill the sponges outright, it causes the organisms that inhabit them and provide them with food through photosynthesis to deprive the sponge of nutrients and reduce its safety.

According to Bell, some species of sea sponges can recover from excessive bleaching, while others cannot.
As The Guardian reports, Smith said: “Some organisms will bounce back a day or a week above-average temperatures, but once you start to build up that heat stroke… you’ll start to feel the effects.”

While Smith said it would be hard to say whether human-caused climate change was to blame for a particular period of temperature rise, oceans worldwide were warming with longer periods of higher temperatures. The intensity and the expected duration were. increase

“It just highlights the kind of climate crisis we are facing,” Bell said, as reported by Indiatimes.

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