I don’t think I’m the only one who’s thought of this, and to avoid infringing on copyrights I will simply tell you about our conversation instead of going through a long plot:
I was sitting with my family around the dinner table a while back discussing the oil spill in the Gulf and all kinds of things that could have or should have been done by now. One of us asked: “What would Spongebob do?”
We all looked at each other and broke out in laughter. What if deep water oil drilling had been allowed in the ocean near a little imaginary community of sea critters and one land mammal threatening to destroy their lifestyle?
We imagined that a little yellow guy, who looks more like a rectangle than a square, would offer up, in a heroic yet childish way, his life to save the town. Since he can, he’d soak up the oil, float to the top of the ocean and wring himself out into an oil tanker waiting above, then dive down to do it all over again. Maybe he’d recruit his relatives. And, we decided, if he started early enough after the oil started spewing into the water, that he could keep all of it from reaching the nearby coasts, thus saving the world.
Too bad it’s just fiction.
Sponges are real, though, and live in the Gulf of Mexico right along the western Florida coast. We had been to Tarpon Springs, FL this summer. Named the Sponge Capital of the U.S., Tarpon Springs is a wonderful little Greek town that thrives on both fishing and the sponge harvest in the nearby waters and tourism. I bought a large vase sponge to add to my collection of marine specimens. Appalachiacola is another sponge harvesting community along the Gulf. They have a sponge museum called the Sponge Exchange.
Unfortunately, if the tar balls and oil reach these communities and the sponges in the water, there isn’t a single thing these critters can do. Sponges are not mobile and cannot, therefore, run away from the toxic goo. They’re stuck. They may survive; they may die. I haven’t found a source yet that says for sure what will happen to sponges in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s hard to tell, also, whether the oil will even make it to Florida’s west coast. From what I’ve read, the Loop Current is too far away to pull the oil to the beaches, but it is hurricane season and tar balls were just found in Texas.
Meanwhile, keep praying for the Gulf and check out this article about how the oil is affecting the cures for cancer. Sponges are used in cancer medicine. http://www.takepart.com/news/2010/07/02/could-gulf-oil-spill-kill-cure-for-malaria-cancer-treatments