neptune's cup sponge
The Neptune’s Cup sponge was the first sponge species to be described (as a new species) from Singapore in 1822, almost two centuries ago! It was an iconic sponge and most probably the most famous Singapore export some 150 years ago. It’s shaped like a wine glass, over 1 m in height and diameter, and much sought after in the past by museums and private collectors.

This was what the second British Resident of Singapore, John Crawfurd, said in 1830 about the Neptune’s Cup sponge that he saw in Singapore waters.

“We made an excursion yesterday to some coral banks lying among the islands which the western boundary of the harbour of Singapore. These banks exhibit the strangest and most fantastic forms of organic life that can be imagined, in the various shapes of corallines, madrepores, asteria and sponges. In still deeper water, and off the southern extremity of the island, there are found those gigantic sponges, which are peculiar to the coast of Singapore, and which Europeans have called Neptunian cups. The natives brought them to us in great numbers.”

Almost all the major natural history museums have a specimen of this iconic sponge. Back then, the public probably only knew about bath sponge and Neptune’s Cup sponge, amongst thousands species of sponges. Many specimens were shipped to Europe and other parts of the world and it was widely believed to be extinct due to “over-fishing”. The last record of this sponge was in 1908 and the world have not seen or heard about it until one specimen was dredged up from North Australian waters. In April 2011, Karenne and Eugene discovered the Neptune’s Cup sponge in Singapore waters after it had disappeared for over than a century! And it was a juvenile! Juvenile Neptune’s Cup sponge has never been reported in scientific literatures.
11 photos · 1,648 views