A healthy vase sponge can grow to over 1 meter in length, and may be decades old. Sponges pump and filter large quantities of sea water, and provide shelter for a wide variety of tiny marine creatures.

A healthy vase sponge can grow to over 1 meter in length, and may be decades old. Sponges pump and filter large quantities of sea water, and provide shelter for a wide variety of tiny marine creatures. 

The FWC needs volunteers to assist with sponge community restoration efforts in the Florida Keys and Florida Bay. Sponges sometimes occupy similar habitat as corals. While they are very different animals, sponges often grow on coral reefs and other hardbottom structures and, in some cases, help sustain them due to their filtration capabilities. In the Florida Keys, sponges and coral reefs are suffering for different reasons. Most coral degradation in this region is caused by climate change or stony coral tissue loss disease, while cyanobacteria blooms are suspected as the major culprit for sponge degradation. Restoration efforts are similar; individual organisms are raised in nurseries and later transplanted to locations in need of restoration. This is where they need your help.

• This is a multiyear effort to enhance the natural recovery of degraded areas in the Florida Keys and Florida Bay.

• Volunteers are needed to snorkel to, retrieve and distribute sponges or stay onboard a vessel to receive sponges for transport to degraded areas.

• There are multiple opportunities to volunteer between 3/16/20 and 3/27/20 (specific dates are weather dependent). If you are both interested and available to volunteer during the date range listed above, contact volunteer@myfwc.com with the subject line “Sponge”. To learn more about sponge restoration, check out he Florida Sea Grant for their Florida Master Naturalist Program on youtube. Can’t make it this time? Don’t worry - more opportunities will be coming. In the meantime, check out this other coral information and news: https://myfwc.com/research/habitat/coral/disease/

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