This is a carnivorous deep-sea organism called harp sponge. Image by MBARI
Most sponges are simple filter feeders—they eat small plankton and bacteria that they ‘filter’ from the surrounding water which they pump through their bodies. But in 2012, scientists on a research voyage off the coast of northern California discovered a sponge that uses small hooks along its vertical branches to entrap and devour larger, more nutrient-dense prey, like small crustaceans. The sponge’s elegant structure, which it likely evolved to maximize the area available for snaring food, inspired scientists to name the carnivorous deep-sea predator the harp sponge (Chondrocladia lyra).