North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Life on the Edge: Exploring Deep Ocean Habitats - NC Museum of Natural Sciences Website
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2005 Questions & Answers

10/30/05

Crush, a seventh grader from Burke County, wants to know about the glass sponges you have seen during the sub dives.
At least three different types of glass sponges have been seen on this mission. One is shaped like a ball, one is mass of cylinder shapes, and the third is shaped like a wine glass. The interesting thing about glass sponges is that they are composed of spicules that, if touched, break off easily and pierce the skin. These spicules can cause tingling, itching, and irritation, much like touching fiberglass does. We have collected a few different species and, in some of them, you can see the sharp spicules with your eyes. Unfortunately, a few of us have felt them, too.

Nate and Amanda, college students from NC State, and Matt, a ninth grader from Virginia, wonder if hurricanes affect life in the deep ocean. If they do, what are the effects and how long do these effects last?
Hurricanes do not generally have long-term effects on deep ocean habitats but can cause temporary changes in local currents or energy flow. Normally, energy flows from the surface of the ocean down to the bottom. Hurricanes may cause that flow of energy to increase or decrease, depending on the disturbances that occur at the surface due to the storm. We expect that everything in our sampling area will be back to normal within 2448 hours after Hurricane Wilma.

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