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Sponge Farming: A Sustainable Business Venture

Context:

Warming oceans forced women in Zanzibar to switch from seaweed to climate-resilient sponge farming to stay afloat.

Relevance:

GS III: Agriculture

Sponge Farming: A Sustainable Business Venture

Introduction

  • Emerging as a new environmentally friendly business opportunity.
  • Sponges are living animals with loosely arranged cells surrounding a fibrous skeleton.

Physiological Features

  • Specialized cells with whip-like tails act as microscopic pumps, drawing water into the sponge’s body.
  • Sponges create a habitat for various animals, plants, and microorganisms, fostering mutual symbiotic relationships.

Global Presence

  • Sea sponges inhabit oceans worldwide, constituting 20% of the global silicon biological sink.
  • Unique pumping mechanism purifies ocean water by removing impurities, including sewage.

Unique Characteristics

  • Resilient to climate change, requiring minimal maintenance.
  • Commands premium market prices compared to seaweed.

Reproduction and Regeneration

  • Most sponges are hermaphrodites, facilitating self-propagation.
  • New sponges emerge from small buds, ensuring independent growth.
  • Damaged or fragmented sponges exhibit remarkable regenerative abilities.

Commercial Applications

  • Used for bathing and hygiene due to natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, resisting odors.
  • Plays a crucial role in combating climate change by contributing to the carbon cycle.
  • Sponge skeletons break down into silicon particles, supporting diatom growth, which absorbs CO2 through photosynthesis.

-Source: Down to Earth


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