Researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) embarked on an underwater journey to solve a mystery: Why did sponges of the Agelas oroides species, which used to be common in the shallow waters along the Mediterranean coast of Israel, disappear? Today, the species can be found in Israel mainly in deep habitats that exist at a depth of 100 meters (330 feet).
The researchers believe that the main reason for the disappearance of the sponges was the rise in seawater temperatures during the summer months, which in the past 60 years have risen by about 3°C (37°F).
The study was led by Professor Micha Ilan and PhD student Tal Idan of TAU’s School of Zoology at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and Steinhardt Museum of Natural History. The article was published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science in November 2020.
“Sponges are marine animals of great importance