Marine sponges and the microbes living within them are important from both an ecological and a biotechnological viewpoint. Nutrition supplied by photosynthetic symbionts often allow them to compete with other benthic organisms such as corals. Sponges are a rich source of biologically active metabolites, many of which have antimicrobial, antiviral or antitumor properties. Their associated microorganisms are therefore receiving much attention from pharmaceutical companies.
Here, at least two different types of sponges can be found attached to a bracing of an old decommissioned Oil and Gas platform. Butterflyfish often ‘sponge off’ the ecology of and associated with the encrusting sponges ~ directly as a food source and indirectly by feeding off the detritus particles captured by the sponge structure.