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What are Sponges?

Sponges, whose Latin name is Porifera, are multicellular creatures with a jelly-like structure, whose body is filled with holes and channels, water circulation through its holes, and consists of two thin cell layers.

Sponges do not have nerve cells, nor do they have digestive and circulatory systems. Instead, they have a regular water circulation in their bodies, and they take in nutrients and oxygen and expel wastes.

Biological properties of sponges

Their size is usually between 1-3 centimeters. Their color can be green, red, blue, yellow, orange or brown. They have soft skin. They do not move and can live for 15-30 years.

Sponges consist of four simple and independent cells. The first are collar cells, they form the channels inside the sponge. Organelles called flagella are attached to the ends of the cells and help pump water into the sponge's body. They help bring oxygen and nutrients into the sponge's body as the water is pumped, as well as helping to remove waste and carbon dioxide from the body.

The second type of cell is porocyte cells. These cells form the holes (pores) on the sponges. Epidermal cells form the skin on the outside of the sponge. Finally, the amocyte cells are located in a region called the mesenchyme layer, between the epidermal cells and the collar cells.
These cells also help the sponge's functions and carry nutrients. They also form spines called spicules, the skeletal fibers of the sponge. They work with collar cells to digest food and produce gametes for sexual reproduction.

Sponges can live in many environments. Although 99 percent live in salt water, some can also live in fresh water. They can survive by clinging to all surfaces up to 8 kilometers deep to the ocean floor. A large number of different sponge species live in the tropics because the waters are warmer. Sponges prefer clear waters because turbid water can clog their holes and they need to get oxygen through these holes to live.
Sponges are very important food sources for coral reefs. Scientists think that sponges affect water quality in good or bad ways. According to research by scientists, sponges can breathe very quickly and give nitrogen very quickly. As sponges filter the water around them, they also collect bacteria and these bacteria are used as food for the sponge.

Sponges can reproduce either sexually or asexually. This helps them survive in their habitats. Many sponge species are both male and female, i.e. hermaphrodites. They can assume the roles of both sexes in sexual reproduction. While the male sponge produces sperm and releases it into the water, the female sponge can also use this sperm. After fertilization, the sponge releases larvae into the water. These larvae float in water for several days and then attach to a hard object, then begin to grow as an adult sponge.

Sponges can also reproduce asexually by budding. A small piece of the sponge breaks off and separates from the body, but continues to live and then grows into another sponge. Sponges can also repair damage to their bodies. Thanks to these features, they can continue to live in water even if they are very small in size.

What does a sea sponge do?

The calcium carbonate and silicon found in many sponge species make the sponges too hard to use, but two types of sponges, Spongia and Hippospongia, have soft, all-fiber skeletons.

In ancient times, Europeans used soft sponges as padding inside helmets, as portable drinking utensils and as water filters, etc. used for various purposes. Until the invention of synthetic sponges, sea sponges were used as cleaning tools, items used in painting, items used in making ceramic glazes, and secret birth control methods. However, in the mid-20th century, both sponges and industry suffered from uncontrolled fishing.

Many sponge textures used today are not actually made of real sponge. Synthetic sponges can be produced as cleaning agents, breast implants and birth control sponges. Materials such as cellulose foam, polyurethane foam and silicone foam are generally used in their construction.
Sea sponges are also used for bottlenose dolphins. These dolphins attach sea sponges to their beaks, thus protecting themselves from the sandy surface while foraging on the seabed. Usually female dolphins exhibit this movement and this event has been seen in an area called Shark Bay.
Sea sponges can also be used to make medicine because they have certain microbial chemicals living with them and these can be used to control viruses, bacteria, tumors and fungi.

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