What is a glass sponge?

Glass sponges in the class Hexactinellida are animals commonly found in the deep ocean. Their tissues contain glass-like structural particles, called spicules, that are made of silica (hence their name). Some species of glass sponges produce extremely large spicules that fuse together in beautiful patterns to form a “glass house”—a complex skeleton that often remains intact even after the sponge itself dies. The skeleton of the glass sponge, together with various chemicals, provides defense against many predators. Nonetheless, some starfish are known to feed on these rare creatures of the deep.

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