| The Neptune's Cup sponge
Features: Large sponge resembling a cup or wine glass, 1m by 1m in height and diameter. The stalk is embedded in the ground with 'roots'. Colours white to yellow.
Feared to be globally extinct, the sponge was rediscovered in Singapore in 2011.
From an article by Karenne Tun and Eugene Goh in My Green Space, Oct-Dec 2011: "the Neptune's Cup sponge was first seen in Singapore waters in 1822. According to historical records, the Neptune's Cup sponge was common during the time of Sir Stamford Raffles, An account by a British official in 1830 said 'those gigantic sponges' were brought to them 'in great numbers.'
However, the Neptune's Cup sponge population declined rapidly in our waters, and was last sighted in the 1870s. It seemed to also have disappeared from other coastal waters too -- it was last collected off Bantam in West Java, Indonesia, in 1908. This led many scientists to believe that sponge had become extinct globally."
How exciting then, that "in March 2011, during a routine survey dive, marine biologists encountered a unique-looking sponge off Singapore's southern islands. It was later identified by Singapore's sponge expert, Mr Lim Swee Cheng, as a young Neptune's Cup sponge."