Sea sponge given name with a Norfolk twist

Undated handout photo issued by the Marine Conservation Society of a sea sponge identified off the l

The sea sponge identified off the local coastline. Sylvie, a pupil at Langham Village School in north Norfolk, came up with the winning suggestion for a name of the species - Parpal Dumplin. - Credit: Dawn Watson

What do you call something that's purple, looks like a dumpling and is found in Norfolk? 

According to one nine-year-old the answer is obvious - Parpal Dumplin.

That was the suggestion from Langham Village School pupil Sylvie in a competition to name a sponge species first identified 10 years ago by divers exploring the chalk seabeds off north Norfolk. 

The competition was run by Agents of Change, a Marine Conservation Society project that aims to increase awareness and support for marine conservation zones and the sea.

Undated handout photo issued by the Marine Conservation Society of Sylvie, a pupil at Langham Villag

Sylvie, a pupil at Langham Village School in north Norfolk, who came up with the winning suggestion of Parpal Dumplin for a new sea sponge identified off the local coastline. - Credit: Helen Owen

Sylvie's entry was chosen unanimously by the judges, who liked the name's 'Norfolk connection'. 


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Dawn Watson, co-ordinator for the volunteer scuba diver and snorkeler project Seasearch, first spotted the sponge, and it was confirmed to be an as-yet unidentified species by Claire Goodwin, an expert in the field. 

Ms Goodwin said: "Dawn introduced me to a purple sponge she had noticed on the chalk reefs. We took samples, and believe it to be a species new to science, in a sub-genus of sponges known as Hymedesmia (Stylopus).

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"The Agents of Change naming project has given the sponge a common name that we can use until it has a scientific one.  I loved seeing all the creative suggestions.” 

Hilary Cox, the Agents of Change co-ordinator for Norfolk, said: “Parpal Dumplin is a great choice by the decision panel of specialists:  a local Norfolk name for this newly found species in North Norfolk's Marine Conservation Zone.” 

Annabel Hill, senior education and engagement officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, was on the judging panel for the name.

She said it had been: “Wonderful to be involved in the process of naming a new species of sponge, found in Norfolk from a range of fantastic creative names suggested by local school children”. 

Jenny Lumb, teacher at the Coastal Federation, which includes Bacton Primary and Mundesley Infant and Junior schools, said: “Naming the purple sponge has been a fun way for children to find out about the fascinating life hidden beneath the waves. It's amazing to be given the chance to name a species that scientists and  divers will use for years to come."




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