Sponging off Freo

Sponges worth a bob: The world’s leading scientists are in Fremantle for the 9th World Sponge Conference. d410723
Sponges worth a bob: The world’s leading scientists are in Fremantle for the 9th World Sponge Conference. d410723

But when almost 200 scientists think Fremantle, they think of sponges.

Some of the world’s leading scientists descended on Fremantle’s Esplanade Hotel last week for the 9th World Sponge Conference, giving them the opportunity to share scientific progress and establish new collaborations in the field.

Australian Institute of Marine Science research scholar Nicole Webster said Fremantle was chosen for the location of the conference because of the unique sponge gardens that had recently been discovered off the WA coast, making the area home to one of the most diverse collections of the organisms in the world.

She said 180 scientists from 38 different countries were at Fremantle for the week-long conference.

‘Sponges are so important to major ocean processes and the function of reefs, they provide critical habitats for a large range of different marine species and they are the lungs of the sea due to the immense volumes of water they filter,’ she said.