This site was created to conserve and build on 45 years of research into Glass Sponges lead by Dr Bill Austin (March 24, 1936 - March 22, 2018). All the research and web development was done without funding. There are 265 species that have been identified and are in the process of being listed here. Some with amazing properties. Original specimens are now with the Royal BC Museum. We are hoping to keep Bill's legacy alive for future scientists, students and the public. All donations go to future research, preservation and continuance of this site.
This is an interview in which Bill discusses the issues surrounding glass sponge reefs. Thank you to Roy Mulder for allowing us to post it here.
Glass sponges are some of the oldest and simplest animals on earth dating back 44 million years that build intricate skeletons out of silica (glass) that filter vast quantities of bacteria from seawater.
The environmental importance of sponges is becoming increasingly understood. On February 16, 2017 the Minister of Fisheries announced the designation of the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Area. But more work is needed. To understand the negative impacts of human activities on sponges—various types of fishing, tanker traffic, oil and chemical spills, etc.—it’s imperative to ensure that a proper database of sponge species, locations and habitats is available for researchers and environmentalists. Find out how you can help.
You can search for species here or scroll through the menu by clicking the bars at the top right.
Images provided by Neil MacDaniel, William Austin, Joe Doiron, Carole Valkenier-Pope, Judy Kenzie & Carrie Cole.