Parpal Dumplin: Schoolgirl, nine, suggests name for new species of sea sponge found off Norfolk

A new species of sea sponge found off the coast of Norfolk has been named Parpal Dumplin by a schoolgirl.

Nine-year-old Sylvie, a pupil at Langham Village School in north Norfolk, chose the name because, she said, the sponge is purple and looks like a dumpling.

The sponge was found in chalk beds by divers from Seasearch, a project to map out near-shore UK coastal areas, a decade ago.

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Sylvie’s suggestion impressed the Marine Conservation Society’s Agents of Change project, which had asked children to use their creativity to name the species.

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.

Worldwide, there are more than 11,000 different species of sponge, which help to keep seawater clean by filter feeding – consuming tiny particles of food that float by.

Parpal Dumplin, which was identified in Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds Marine Conservation Zone, is encrusting, meaning it adopts the shape of whatever it covers.

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