New species of killer sponges spotted off California coast

Four new types of killer sponges have been discovered deep in the Pacific, off the California coast.

"We're really excited when we're out at sea and we see these beautiful animals that we're certain nobody's ever seen alive before," Lonny Lundsten, a senior research technician at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, told CBS News.

The carnivorous sponges prey on shrimplike amphipods and other small sea creatures, LiveScience explains.

Lundsten said the discoveries were made possible by using remotely operated underwater vehicles. The vehicles are equipped with high definition video cameras.

Images of the asbestospluma rickettsi were sent back to the lab.

"They were right at about 1,800 feet below the ocean's surface," said Lundsten. That's what makes these new species so unique. Typical sponges create a current to filter small microorganisms from the water for food. But these newly discovered sponges slowly digest their prey. Their microscopic hooks help them trap small crustaceans that drift along in the currents.

The footage from the cameras give the researchers new insight into how the sponges have adapted to living in a dark, poor food environment.

"Every time we go out there it's almost like we're doing exploration of the frontier and that's exciting," said Lundsten.