Recognising and catching sponges is a specialised business. There are numerous species with very similar shapes and colours to those of commercial sponges (Scalarispongia scalaris,Ircinia oros, Sarcotragus sp.). What distinguishes them is the nature of the spongine skeleton, which makes these other species unsuitable for any use whatsoever. What is more, as is the case with commercial varieties, these sponges are threatened by environmental disturbances.
Amateurs – hands off, please!

Exploration of the marine environment as a potential source of natural bioactive products with highly original structures is booming. The ocean, which covers 70% of the Earth's surface, is home to almost half the total biodiversity of our planet. To date, more than 6500 natural molecules have been isolated from marine organisms, with sponges accounting for one-third of this resource. For the moment, only 1% of these molecules display any potential in pharmacological terms. So far, four medicines of marine origin have been marketed, and some fifteen other possible candidates are in the various stages of clinical trials prior to the development of medications.

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