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Class: The Art of Glass (Hexactinellida)

Published on: 7th July, 2022

In October 2020, Ocean Exploration Trust’s E/V Nautilus crew discovered something extraordinary—vast clusters of glass sponges

Glass sponges in general are a rare sight, but what made this discovery even more surprising is where they were found.

Beginning just 25 miles off the coast of California, The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is a 1,470 square mile refuge for wildlife as well as a human heritage site. 

Regions where the ocean floor can be found just 1,000 feet or so below, like Footprint Ridge and the Piggy Bank, have been pretty thoroughly explored.

But between those two sites lies a valley, plunging another thousand feet below. This time, in late 2020, the scientific team famous for their live-streaming of footage captured by ROV’s, decided to give that valley a closer look.

That’s when the NOAA experts, on Nautilus Live, stumbled upon a vast underwater field of glass.

Finds like these are becoming increasingly important as potential habitats for diverse life and as indicators of ocean health in a changing world.

But, aside from the obviously fascinating fact that these creatures have skeletons made of glass, what exactly are these so-called glass sponges?

That’s what this episode of Class is all about, the art of glass.

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The Wild Life
A show about the natural world and how to protect it.
The air we breathe, the biggest, the brainless, the shiniest, striped mysteries, penguin knees, fireflies, frogcicles, and everything in between.

The Wild Life is a place for the curious, the adventurous, the hopeful, and the hopeless to discover new knows and unknowns about the natural world and its inhabitants. Between the blog and the growing plethora of podcasts, The Wild Life seeks to bring the traditional naturalist experience into the 21st century by merging immersive storytelling and foley art with technology and creative experiences. It’s an exploration of truth, common ground, and shared places as we attempt to fill each episode with wonder, connectedness, intrigue, and humor.

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Devon Bowker