Sponge Restoration

Small black mounds in rows on a mucky seafloor
Sponge restoration may be an important part of future coral reef restoration projects. Photo: FWC

Healthy marine ecosystems in the Florida Keys would not be complete without a diverse sponge community due to their role as critical habitat for lobsters, stone crabs and juvenile fishes. Marine sponges also play an important role in water quality because they continuously filter large volumes of water, removing harmful bacteria, particulates, and nutrients. Sponge communities throughout nearshore and Florida Bay sites have declined due to harmful algal blooms, overfishing, poor water quality, storms, and the changing chemistry of our oceans. Our partners at Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are expanding their sponge nurseries working on sponge restoration projects in nearshore, hard-bottom communities. Sponges are also considered an integral component of coral reef ecosystems and are being considered in future coral reef restoration efforts.