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  • Thanks to Brilliant for supporting this  episode of SciShow. Go to  

  • to learn how you can take your  STEM skills to the next level  

  • this year!

  • {♫Intro♫}

  • Finding love can be pretty tough  sometimeseven for a human on  

  • the land. But imagine if you lived in  the darkest depths of the deep sea.

  • Down there, just finding another member  of your species can be next to impossible.

  • Which is why some creatures have evolved some...  interesting strategies to pin down a mate.

  • For instance, allow me to tell you a deep-sea  shrimp love story. It begins with a sponge,  

  • and two shrimpand it ends in forever.

  • The deep-sea sponge in this story is called  a Venus flower basket. Like other sponges,  

  • it's a sedentary animal that uses its external  skeleton to filter food from the water around it.

  • But this particular sponge almost  seems like it's made of lace.

  • Except, what looks like a delicate mesh is  actually spiky pieces of glass-like silica  

  • called spicules. The sponge weaves these  together to make its external skeleton.

  • And as dainty as it looks, this structural design  is actually super strong. In fact, it's what makes  

  • it possible for these sponges to withstand  the extreme water pressure deep in the ocean.

  • But that's not its only role. This  intricate glass skeleton also serves  

  • as a home and a breeding ground for a pair of  deep-sea shrimp in the family Spongicolidae.

  • Once two of these shrimp pair up,  

  • they find a sponge and crawl through  the glass mesh. Then, they settle in.

  • Researchers think they likely hang out here  because passing food particles stick to the  

  • spicules, so the shrimp can get a steady supply  of food. It's a pretty great deal for a shrimp.

  • But this symbiotic relationship  works out well for the sponge, too:  

  • The hungry shrimp keep its spicules squeaky-cleanand the sponge feeds on the shrimps' waste.

  • The only catch isas the shrimp  grow bigger, they can't get out.  

  • They're trapped behind the sponge's mesh.

  • Which sounds a little tragicbut is  actually a good thing for the shrimp.

  • As they evolved over thousands of years, they lost  features that would let them live independently.

  • For example, their gills have shrunk  because their sedentary lifestyle  

  • doesn't require as much  oxygen as a free-swimming one.

  • Their shells have also become less spiny,  

  • since the sponge takes care of  protecting them from predators.

  • So it's now impossible for them to live  anywhere but inside a spongetogether.

  • Eventually, the shrimp pair has babiesand these are small enough to squeeze out  

  • through the mesh and set off in search ofVenus flower basket sponge to call their own.

  • Then, finally, the original pair will die,  

  • which will open that sponge up for new tenants  to settle in and continue their symbiosis.

  • As for how the shrimp find their homes?

  • Well, scientists think the  sponges' spicules actually transmit  

  • light from nearby bioluminescent creatures, so  as young shrimp couples look for a new home,  

  • they're attracted to these  glowing beacons in the dark.

  • This unlikely relationship has made it possible  

  • for these shrimp to continue  to survive in the deep sea.

  • And for some humans, it also seems to  have become a symbol of committed love.  

  • In Japan, the skeletons of these sponges  are sometimes presented as wedding gifts.

  • Because there's nothing  like a deep-sea glass sponge  

  • shrimp prison to sayuntil death do us part.”

  • So, a big part of research that sometimes  gets overlooked is programming. It's not  

  • necessary for all science, but knowing your  way around a code or two can come in handy.

  • And if that's a skill you want to learnyou could try one of Brilliant's courses.

  • For example, they have a course called Programming  with Python, which teaches you one of the most  

  • common languages with Brilliant's trademark  explanations, quizzes, and hands-on demos.

  • Whether you're a scientist by trade  or just think Python sounds fun,  

  • you can find it at And if  you sign up at that link, you can also get 20%  

  • off an annual Premium subscription.

  • {♫Outro♫}

Thanks to Brilliant for supporting this  episode of SciShow. Go to  

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B1 US sponge shrimp deep sea sea mesh brilliant

The Shrimp and the Sponge: A Deep Sea Love Story

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/16
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