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June 2022

Missiemuseum, Philippine Cabinet

A Venus flower basket (Euplectella aspergillum) is a marine creature that lives anchored to the ocean floor. One of the best-known sites of this rare creature is the deep strait between the islands of Cebu and Bohol, in the south of the Philippines. These tubular sea sponges can grow up to 1 meter in size. They filter out small food particles from the seawater as it flows through their lattice structured bodies.

Underneath the sponge is a globule in which luminous bacteria live. Their light is guided through a special lens by the fine glass wires and emitted, so that the sponge looks like a twilight bulb on the seabed. It is possible that this attracts small animals. One of these is a small shrimp, which swims in through the holes and decides to stay there, along with another shrimp. The pair has shelter, protection and food in the Venus flower basket. In Japan, people regarded such a sponge with shrimp in it as a symbol of marriage: lifelong fidelity in the safety of your home

Our Venus flower basket was shipped to us in this box which has strict instructions and information on it. The seemingly fragile construction of the Venus flower basket is quite strong. The glasslike construction is stronger than an aluminium tube of the same thickness, yet the box clearly stated that visitors should definitely not touch the Venus flower basket.

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