A new species of sea sponge identified off the north Norfolk coast has been named Parpal Dumplin, with the winning suggestion coming from a local schoolgirl who noted it was purple and resembled a dumpling.
The Marine Conservation Society’s Agents of Change project asked children to use their creativity to name the species, which was found in chalk beds by volunteer divers from Seasearch a decade ago.
The winning name, Parpal Dumplin, was suggested by a nine-year-old pupil at Langham Village School in north Norfolk whose name was given as Sylvie.
Panellists were unanimous in their decision and particularly liked that the spelling gives the sponge a strong connection to Norfolk.
Sponge specialist Claire Goodwin said she believed Parpal Dumplin to be “a species new to science, in a sub-genus of sponges known as Hymedesmia (Stylopus)”.
“We need to look at specimens deposited in museums to understand how many different Hymedesmia (Stylopus) species exist in the UK and how they differ from this new species,” she said.
“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.”
Sponges help to keep seawater clean by filter feeding – consuming tiny particles of food that float by.
There are more than 11,000 different species globally.
Parpal Dumplin is encrusting, meaning it adopts the shape of whatever it covers.
It was identified in Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds Marine Conservation Zone.