Saturday 19 September 2015

Elephant Ear Sponge

Image: Richard Ling
Ianthella basta
If it's bad to make a pig's ear of a thing, how much worse an elephant's?

Image: Bernard DUPONT
These Indo-Pacific sponges don't flip and flap like an actual elephant's ear. Also they're not attached to an elephant. Not even a mer-elephant. Instead, they're attached directly to the sea floor among all the other sponges and corals of the tropical reefs.

They're quite the stand-out citizen with their unique, paper thin shape. It earns them alternative names like Paper Sponge and Scroll Sponge. I guess a piece of paper that can reach well over a metre (3.3 feet) long and is completely waterproof is... alright. But compared to the merest thought of a monstrous, half elephant, half fish beast, the piece of paper simply wilts away. Like it would if it wasn't waterproof.

Image: Jan Messersmith
And just think of the possible colours of our mer-elephant! Elephant Ear Sponges can be yellow, orange, red, green... Of course my favourites are the lovely blue and purple ones. I wouldn't mind having a piece of paper that colour.

Like other sponges, Elephant Ears draw in water through pores so they can filter out the tasty bacteria.

Image: Klaus Stiefel
Not only do they provide a nice habitat for small fish and crustaceans, the pores also make the Elephant Ear look a bit like a woolly jumper.

So while you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear, you could perhaps make a woollen one out of an elephant's.


TexWisGirl said...

it does look like wooly fabric up close.

Joseph JG said...

Yeah, it's quite odd!