HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Scientists this week announced a major discovery in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. On the ocean floor, 7,000 feet below the surface, they stumbled upon the largest known sponge in the world.
Scientists say it is larger than a minivan -- measuring about 12 feet long and seven feet wide.
The sponge was found during a 2015 NOAA expedition to Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument to study deep-water habitats.
"Finding such an enormous and presumably old sponge emphasizes how much can be learned from studying deep and pristine environments such as those found in the remote Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument," said research specialist Daniel Wagner, Ph.D.
Little is known about the lifespan of sponges, but some shallow water species are estimated to live more than 2,300 years.