What the sponges are? How are they caught? When was the duster invented?

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⋅ Is the sponge a plant or an animal?


⋅ Since when are the sponges used for daily hygiene?


⋅ How are the sponges caught?


⋅ Who invented the duster and when?

Sponges are not plants, but aquatic animals – metazoans to be more precise – which do not have internal organs and live stuck to the sea bed. The surface of a sponge is covered by thousands of pores that constantly absorb huge amounts of water, from which they extract the bacteria that constitutes their food.

When sponges are under the sea, they are commonly of a dark colour. This is due to a membrane that covers the sponge and acts as a skin, protecting the soft skeleton inside.

bajorrelieve de Assurbunipal IIWe know that marine sponges have been used for centuries. We can find allusions to their use in the writings of Aristotle, Plato and even in the works of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey. In ancient times, the Greeks knew about sponges and used marine sponges as one of the best natural products for personal hygiene and skin care.


Sponge fishing was one of the events in the ancient Olympic Games
The Romans, also, who are well-known for their famous spas, valued their properties and made good use of marine sponges in their daily hygiene. Roman soldiers used sponges instead of metal goblets during their military campaigns.

cómo se pescan las esponjasAt the end of the 19th century, there was a revolution of the fishing of sponges because of the introduction of wetsuit. This suit was made of rubber and it had a bronze collar to which a heavy helmet made of the same material was attached. The helmet had glass windows that allowed the diver to see, as well as a valve that
regulated the air supply, which came from a pump installed on the boat.

Buzo y manguera de aceroThe boat and the diver were joined by a rubber hose that was reinforced by steel wire.

The use of the suit gave rise to a great change. Each boat then carried between 6 and 15 divers, who were under the orders of a captain. The divers could submerge in the sea at a depth of up to 70 meters. They could communicate with the boat by means of a thin rope that was tied to the diver´s right wrist. He could remain submerged for much longer, meaning that he could catch more sponges.

Nowadays, divers wear a lighter wetsuit made of neoprene and nylon, the same as people who dive for sport, and they can move around freely, breathing air that comes from a compressor installed on the boat. 

buzo recogiendo esponjas marinasMarine sponges have a great capacity t regenerate themselves. This is the reason for which divers leave the “root” of the sponge on the sea bed, in order to allow it to regenerate itself and grow again.

A feather duster is a cleaning device that uses ostrich feathers to catch dust and small particles from objects in a natural way, thanks to the structure of the feather, which is formed by millions of fibres (barbs) that generate a static charge, and a very resistant and flexible central nerve (rachis), which makes it an essential tool for the cleaning of homes and industries.

The feather duster is an invention patented by Susan Hibbard in 1876 and, in 1903, Harry S. Beckner invented the first ostrich feather brush.


During the 19th century, the ostrich feather duster was considered to be a status symbol. Since then, it has continued to develop until today’s models, improving its structure and finish.


Durante el siglo XIX el plumero de avestruz se consideró un símbolo de estatus. Desde entonces se ha ido perfeccionando hasta los modelos actuales mejorando su estructura y acabado.