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March 28, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Animal Of the Week – Venus’ Flower Basket

One of the most beautiful creatures living in the ocean is the seldom-seen Venus’ flower basket. This creature is a bioluminescent sponge (that’s right—sponges are animals) found deep on the ocean floor around Philippines and Japan. But what makes Venus’ flower basket badass enough to join the ranks of other illustrious Animals of The Week? Well, this sponge uses fibres that are no thicker than a human hair to extract silicic acid from seawater, and it uses these to build itself a skeleton made of glass! These fibres are so efficient that fibre optics companies have begun extensive research into their production. Interestingly, Venus’ flower baskets are a traditional Japanese wedding present, as in Asian cultures they are a symbol of love. The basket is also home to a couple of shrimp, who become trapped in it when its open ends seal shut. The shrimp clean and maintain the basket, and in return, the sponge provides them with shelter; the bioluminescence of the basket is also thought to attract other small organisms that the shrimp can feed on. When the offspring of the shrimp are born, they are small enough to fit through the holes in the side on the sponge, so they leave to find a Venus’ flower basket of their own. These shrimp are more or less the live-in help of the animal world. Such is life for Venus’ flower basket.

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