Chondrocladia Sponge

Chondrocladia Sponge (Chondrocladia lampadiglobus)

A bizarre and rarely-seen carnivorous deep-sea sponge, Chondrocladia lampadiglobus (colloquially known as the "ping pong tree sponge") can be seen growing on stalks anchored in the sediment of the abyssal ocean.

SDI1_2014-08-07 12_45_34_23062_Chondrocladia lampadiglobus sponge2
Close-up of the bizarre carnivorous sponge, Chondrocladia lampadiglobus, seen at Axial Base (2600m deep). It is also colloquially known as the “ping pong tree sponge.”

First seen in 1960 in grainy black and white pictures, it was originally thought to be a Russian listening device by the US Navy, before it was eventually identified as an organism. They have a modified version of the internal water flow system found in shallow-water species of sponge, but they use it to inflate the round balloon-like structures that capture prey (usually small crustaceans) using hooked spicules.

We occasionally encounter these sponges during surveys at the deepest Cabled Array sites: Axial Base (2600 m) and Slope Base (2900 m).