Filter feeding

Granulated Barnacle (Tetraclitella purpurascens) Granulated Barnacle (Tetraclitella purpurascens), Wild Guide to Moreton Bay Schulze’s Tennis Ball Sponge (Cinachyrella schulzei) Schulze's Tennis Ball Sponge (Cinachyrella schulzei), QM SMI G313062Many marine invertebrates literally suck their food from the seawater. These include both suspension-feeders and filter-feeders. This unique dietary adaptation has evolved independently many times in the sea, found in the most primitive invertebrates to the most advanced marine mammals. Suspension-feeders, like barnacles, anemones and featherstars, use their sticky tentacles or modified legs to 'comb' the water for food. Filter-feeders, like sponges, clams and sea squirts, set up currents using 'water pumping stations' to suck in and filter out food particles from the water. There are also vertebrates that filter feed, like whales and whale sharks, that swim through the plankton with their mouths open, using gills or baleen plates to filter their food. Filter feeders play a very important ecological role as the sea’s ‘vacuum cleaners’, purifying the seawater for all the other animals.

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