Sponges are a functionally important filter feeders in marine ecosystems, with key roles in benthic pelagic coupling, as habitats and refuge to fauna, and providing structural resilience of coral reef frameworks. In deep water systems, few studies have identified the importance of sponges, moreover, few studies have identified the ecosystem functioning of deep water sponges associated with cold-water coral reefs.
During this research cruise onboard the RV Poseidon, Dr. Tina Kutti and I are investigating the ecophysiology of deep water sponges associated with cold-water coral reef ecosystems. We have been collecting undamaged sponges to measure what they are feeding on, their filtration efficiency, how much water the sponges pump daily and also their respiration rates. With this information, we aim to increase the knowledge on the ecosystem importance of sponges associated with cold water coral reef ecosystems.
Text: Raymond Bannister, Video: Maike Nicolai