The humble sponge is one of nature's simple creatures. A hark back to the days when all life could get by without a backbone, eyes, legs, bilateral symmetry or an autonomous sympathetic nervous system.
It is under threat from the greatest predator in Earth's history: mankind.
It's habitat is slowly being eroded due to increasing sea temperatures and pollution run off.
On top of this, with the developing world catching up to the developed world, there has been an increase in the hunting of this fragile creature to supply the kitchens of the world with something to wash dishes.
"There are several species of sponge," said marine biologist Edwardo Lavaggio of the Institute of Milan. "Almost all of them are hunted to supply us with dish washing equipment. The most highly sought is the Porifora Brillo, which has a soft absorbent underside, and a rough topside. It has long been the sponge of choice for cleaning stubborn grime from dishes."
Such is the demand for this particular sponge that prices are set to sky rocket due to an ever decreasing number of adult sponges. Currently most Porifora Brillo are captured off the Ivory Coast, but sponge hunters are having to search further and further afield in order to find colonies, including the treacherous waters around landlocked war torn Congo.
"If we are not careful," said Lavaggio, "we could drive this intriguing creature into extinction."
"Buy a dishwasher, save the planet."