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Sea Sponge

Women in Zanzibar Find New Livelihood – Growing Sea Sponges Increasing in Popularity

As highlighted on The Indian Express news website on 6th August 2021, women in Zanzibar are finding a new form of livelihood by cultivating sea sponges. Resembling textured rock and white in colour, these sponges are in fact multicellular lifeforms; the sponges are grown on ropes in the ocean for months before being harvested, cleaned and sold to tourists and shops to be used for bathing and cleaning.

Assisted by marinecultures.org, these women have found sea sponge cultivation a more suitable alternative to seaweed farming that they were previously engaged in; unlike seaweed which is susceptible to ocean salinity and rising water temperatures that harm output, sponges are climate-resilient and offer a sustainable option. It should be noted that apart from offering this livelihood option, the country’s marine ecosystem continues to be a key factor for tourism in Zanzibar; resorts including the likes of The Residence Zanzibar by Cenizaro offer snorkelling and diving as well as dolphin and whale watching excursions where travellers can encounter diverse marine species.