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Rare sea sponge finally named

2 minute read

Erin O'Neill

13 Apr 2021

A unique purple sea sponge, discovered over a decade ago off the coast of Norfolk, has finally been named thanks to a nine-year-old school girl called Sylvie.

The completely new species of sponge was first discovered 10 years ago by Seasearch divers living in a special conservation zone in the North Norfolk chalk beds. But had remained nameless until the Norfolk school girl’s suggestion was chosen.

Expert judges unanimously agreed the sponge should be named Parpal Dumplin’ – a name that evokes the sounds of the Norfolk accent. The winning suggestion was submitted by nine-year-old Sylvie from Langham Village School in Norfolk.

Sylvie said that she came up with the new name “because the sponge is purple and it looks like a dumpling”.

Naming the purple sponge has been a fun way for children to find out about the fascinating life hidden beneath the waves.

Jenny Lumb, teacher at The Coastal Federation
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Nine-year-old Sylvie, who named the new sea sponge

Children were invited to name the purple creature as part of our Agents of Change project, which aims to connect people with their local seas.

From homeschooling students to entire classes, coming up with a name for the new sponge was a great way to get Norfolk kids involved in their local Marine Conservation Zone. Among the brilliant suggestions were Norfolk Purplish Plum and Purple Stone Sticker.

Jenny Lumb, a teacher at The Coastal Federation and panel expert 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!

“The children are so fortunate to have the Marine Conservation Zone on their doorstep. They had a great time on the beach discovering some of the life there, collecting litter and finding out about this special coastal area.

“I am sure the children will continue to enjoy and care for the coastal environment into the future.”

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Parpal Dumplin'

Click here to find out more about the Agents of Change project.

The panel of experts deciding on the name included: Catherine Leigh, Education Adviser at Norfolk Coast Partnership, Annabel Hill, Senior Education Officer at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Jenny Lumb, Teacher at The Coastal Federation, Nick Acheson, President at Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society and Claire Goodwin, Research Scientist at Huntsman Marine Science Centre and internationally renowned sponge specialist. At the meeting, the panel was supported by Seasearch East Coordinator, Dawn Watson, who recognised this sponge as special over a decade ago.

Learn more about our Seasearch project

Visit the Seasearch website