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Articles Blog

Interview with a Sponge

Karyn Planett

The World’s Most Unusual Animal—Can You Name It?

What follows is an actual dynamic and provocative personal interview by an unnamed reporter (hereafter referred to as “R”) with a legendary being (referred to as “MG” —Mystery Guest) whom scientists believe stands alone among animal greats.

Hidden at the end of this captivating account is the animal’s true identity. Will you be surprised?

R: “Thank you for joining us.”
MG: “My pleasure.”

R:  “Your disguise is quite alluring, by the way.”
MG: “Oh, I just do this to foil those around me.”

R: “I’m writing this story on you because you’re known as one of, if not the, world’s most unusual animals.”
MG: “Of course I’m flattered and, frankly, honored.”

R: “First off, for the record, let’s establish exactly where you reside.”
MG: “Well actually, I’m rather fortunate for I have homes all over the world. You see, I’m ever so fond of many environments for I feel it keeps one alive. Friends can always find me in the ocean depths or enjoying the ebb and flow of the lower shores.”

R: “That’s astounding. You must thrive on this variety.”
MG: “Well, allow me to finish. I take to the refreshing sweet waters of vast lakes, cozy ponds, and rivers everywhere as well. I’m just here and there and all over the world.”

R: “Fascinating. And, since we last rendezvoused you seem to have grown some.”
MG: “Quite so. You know a number of my relatives are nearly six feet tall.”

R: “And what a whopping big family you have!”
MG: “The Porifera Demospongiae’s. Have you met them?”

R: “Well, certainly not all of them. That would be a life’s work in and of itself.”
MG: “Then you’ve heard--we now number 5,000 species in the subkingdom of Parazoa. You know how the prolific side of the family is. Well, actually, all of us generate both eggs and, and, well you understand these things, I’m sure. You see we all have both, ah, oh how do I say this? We’re welcomed into both the ‘ladies’ and the ‘gents’ (wink wink).”

R: “No need to explain. I’m from California.”
MG: “Thankfully, then I need not, or should I?, go into the asexual reproduction thing, just for the record?”

R: “Please do.”
MG: “All right. That side of the family sprinkles their gemmules about just as tourists flock to Vermont to view the fall foliage exploding in the most glorious shades of crimson and flame. Then later, as the jonquils erupt from the warm spring soil, our next generation develops wonderfully. And did you hear that some of our elders actually allow their bits and pieces to be fragmented off, like last season’s Burberry sweater, to become members of the next generation? I’m frankly rather appalled by these actions, but it is our nature, you know.”

R: “Thank you for sharing. Now, I’ve heard you’ve been on a strict diet lately? Is that true--you always looked, well, fine.
MG: “Oh yes, it’s marvelous. As a filterfeeder, I simply adore suspended and dissolved organic debris followed by some delightful bacteria. It’s a constant water in, water out, water in, water out. Oh dear, have I revealed too much about myself?”

R: “Not at all. You’re among friends. But some of those friends feel you’ve been a bit on edge recently. I learned you’ve been poisoning others with your toxins. Is that true?”
MG: “Well, they were sharks after all! Really! Lest you forget all the good I’ve done. I’ve helped treat arthritis, and smoothed rough hides despite the fact I myself have been rubbed the wrong way more than once.”

R: “You’re upset, I’m sorry.”
MG: “I’ve done what I could to clean up many a spill. And I’ve absorbed more than my share of things. Just think, compared to any old rag, such as your out-of-style oxford cloth button-down throw-away, I can take on 15 times as much hot water! But I’m throwing cold water on this interview which I now consider finished.”

R: “Well, thank you for your gracious time in enlightening us on your many qualities (sotto voce…. and detriments), you sponge!”
MG: “Oh sure, tell everyone!”