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How is a sponge able to hold so much water? © Getty

How is a sponge able to hold so much water?

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Surface area, flexibility and many narrow channels.

Asked by: Paul, via sciencefocus.com

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Natural sponges are simple marine animals that don’t have any organs. Instead, they rely on their huge surface area to absorb oxygen and nutrients and to get rid of waste products. The flexible skeleton of these sponges (or the plastic equivalent in a synthetic sponge) holds water because the complex labyrinth of dead ends and narrow channels slows the water as it tries to drain away. Squeezing the sponge compresses the channels and the extra pressure helps to force the water out more quickly.

What colour is water? © Getty Images

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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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