Species accounts

Eyed finger sponge

Haliclona oculata

ORDER Haplosclerida

FAMILY Chalinidae

TAXONOMY

Haliclona oculata Pallas, 1766, British Isles.

OTHER COMMON NAMES Dutch: Geweispons.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Clusters of thin, commonly somewhat flattened branches, up to 12 in (30 cm) high, arising from a common stalk and attached to the substrate with a small pedicel or foot. In places with strong water currents, branches may fuse to the point of becoming flabellate, or fan-shaped. Oscules (small mouthlike openings) are small and circular, regularly distributed along the narrower sides of the branches. Sponges have a soft, velvety consistency and are light-brown or pinkish-brown in color.

DISTRIBUTION

Arctic-boreal.

HABITAT

Infralittoral to about 328 ft (100 m), on shores with rocky or sandy bottoms.

BEHAVIOR

Little is known besides feeding ecology and reproductive biology.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Filter-feeder, like all other sponges.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Viviparous. White oval larvae are produced from July to November. Asexual reproduction occurs occasionally by means of gemmules attached to the base of the stalk.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

An elegant, attractive sponge; as such, a pleasure for snorklers and divers to collect. ♦

Vase Sponge Taxonomy

Haliclona oculata Xestospongia testudinaria Asbestopluma hypogea

Barrel sponge

Xestospongia testudinaria

ORDER Haplusclenda

FAMILY Petrosiidae

TAXONOMY

Xestospongia testudinaria Lamarck, 1815, Cape Denison, Queensland, Australia.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Great vase sponge, volcano sponge; German: Grosser Vasenschwamm.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

A large erect reddish brown, barrel- or cup-shaped, thick-walled sponge as much as 4.92 ft (1.5 m) high, with prominent ridges or knobs at the surface. The upper edge of the cup is irregularly indented; the cup itself forms a conspicuous central cavity occupying as much as a third of the total height of the sponge. The sponge is firm and slightly compressible in consistency.

DISTRIBUTION

Western and Central Indian Ocean, Indo-Malesia, northeastern Australia, New Caledonia.

HABITAT

Reefs and lagoons, on rock or dead coral substrates.

BEHAVIOR

Little is known besides feeding ecology and reproductive biology.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET Filter-feeder like all other sponges.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Individual sponges are of separate sexes. Mass release of the gametes takes place in September ('smoking' sponges), after which fertilization occurs in the sea water.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

A pleasure for snorklers and divers to find or collect. ♦

Stove-pipe sponge

Aplysina archeri

ORDER Verongida

FAMILY Aplysinidae

TAXONOMY

Aplysina archeri Higgin, 1875, Yucatán, Mexico.

OTHER COMMON NAMES Italian: Spugna a tuba di stufa.

Stove Pipe Sponge

H Aplysina archeri H Spongia officinalis H Carteriospongia foliascens

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Large pink or purplish gray tubes, growing in groups of several isolated tubes arising from a common base, gradually tapering towards a terminal thick-walled vent. Individual tubes as large as 5 ft (1.5 m) high and 3 in (8 cm) thick. Surface finely conu-lose (cone-shaped), commonly with a pattern of rounded discshaped elevations.

DISTRIBUTION Caribbean.

HABITAT

Grows in reef localities, 6.5-130 ft (2-40 m) in depth. BEHAVIOR

Little is known besides feeding ecology and reproductive biology.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET Filter-feeder, like all other sponges.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Oviparous, separate sexes, simultaneous spawning during a short period.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

An attractive sponge to snorklers and divers. ♦

Yellow boring sponge

Cliona celata

ORDER Hadromerida

FAMILY Clionaidae

TAXONOMY

Cliona celata Grant, 1826, Firth of Forth, Scotland.

OTHER COMMON NAMES Spanish: Esponja perforadora

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

An excavating, bright yellow sponge occurring in two different forms: a boring stage appearing as low, rounded papillae sticking out from such limestone substrates as calcareous rocks and shells; and a so-called gamma stage that consists of massive lobes as large as 3 ft (1 m) across and 20 in (50 cm) high. Lobes have raised rounded ridges and small round nodules spread over the surface.

DISTRIBUTION

Northeastern Atlantic from Norway south to the Gulf of Guinea; Mediterranean; eastern coast of North America from Newfoundland south to North Carolina.

Cliona Celata Oyster Shell

H Cliona celata H Spongilla lacustris

HABITAT

Infralittoral zone, 0-650 ft (0-200 m). BEHAVIOR

Little is known besides feeding ecology and reproductive biology.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET Filter feeder, like all other sponges.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Hermaphroditic; oocytes and sperm develop between June and November. Occasionally reproduces by means of asexual buds.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS A pest to oyster growers. ♦

Bath sponge

Spongia officinalis

ORDER Dictyoceratida

FAMILY Spongiidae

TAXONOMY

Spongia officinalis Linnaeus, 1759, Mediterranean. OTHER COMMON NAMES

German: Meerschwamm; Greek: Fino, Matapas; Italian: Spugna da bagno.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Globular-massive sponges, usually over 4 in (10 cm) in diameter, varying in color from white to black depending on environmental circumstances, with a finely conulose (cone-shaped) surface and spongy-elastic consistency.

DISTRIBUTION

Atlantic coasts of Spain; Mediterranean.

HABITAT

On rocks and in caves from the shoreline to the edge of the continental shelf.

BEHAVIOR

Little is known besides feeding ecology and reproductive biology.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Filter-feeder, like all other sponges.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Viviparous; separate sexes. The parenchymellar larvae are large (to 500 prn) and elliptical in shape with short cilia over most of the body.

CONSERVATION STATUS

As of 1986 populations declined as a result of an epidemic disease; protected under the Bern Convention 1998.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Regarded as the finest quality bath sponge in Europe. ♦

No common name

Carteriospongia foliascens

ORDER

Dictyoceratida

FAMILY

Thorectidae

TAXONOMY

Carteriospongia foliascens Pallas, 1766, India.

OTHER COMMON NAMES German: Blattschwamm.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Lamellate (thinly layered) or foliose (leaflike) greyish-blue sponges, the surface heavily coated with foreign debris, with a characteristic pattern of mounds or ridges. Consistency coarse and flexible.

DISTRIBUTION Indo-Pacific, Red Sea.

HABITAT

Shallow waters around reefs.

BEHAVIOR

Little is known besides feeding ecology and reproductive biology.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Filter-feeder, like all other sponges.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Viviparous.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Produces cytotoxic chemicals named sesterterpenoids with biomedical properties. ♦

Carnivorous sponge

Asbestopluma hypogea

ORDER Poecilosclerida

FAMILY Cladorhizidae

TAXONOMY

Asbestopluma hypogea Vacelet & Boury-Esnault, 1996, La Ciotat, Mediterranean.

OTHER COMMON NAMES French: Eponge carnivore.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Small white sponge with an ovoid body as large as 0.25 in (6.5 mm) high and 0.04 in (1.2 mm) thick, attached to the substrate with a long, thin stalk up to 0.5 in (14 mm) long and .007 in (0.18 mm) in diameter. The body bears 30-60 filaments up to 2.3 in (60 mm) long and 50-80 pm in diameter. The filaments are sticky and shaggy because of their dense cover of tiny raised hook-shaped microscleres (anisochelae).

DISTRIBUTION

Known from two caves near Marseille, France, and one in La Croatia, (Mediterranean).

HABITAT

Rocky surfaces in caves where water is trapped all year long and thus has a constant low temperature of 55-58° F (13-14.7° C), 50-195 ft (15-60 m) away from the entrance, at a depth of 55-75 ft (17-23 m).

BEHAVIOR

Their carnivorous feeding behavior makes these sponges unique.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

These sponges have no aquiferous system or choanocyte chambers. Their diet consists of small crustaceans that they capture in their filaments. The prey is completely surrounded by new filaments and digested within a few days.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Viviparous; however, little is known as of 2003 regarding the exact time of reproduction and structure of the embryos.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Known only from La Ciotat; protected under the Bern Convention of 1998 due to its patrimonial interest.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

Freshwater sponge

Spongilla lacustris

ORDER Haplusclenida

FAMILY Spongillidae

TAXONOMY

Spongilla lacustris Linnaeus, 1759, Lake of Smaland. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Éponge d'eau douce; German: Susswasserschwamm. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Encrusting, branched, arborescent or massive sponges with a fragile, soft consistency and whitish or green color, with irregularly scattered and inconspicuous oscula. Surface uneven and roughened by tiny spines. Gemmules subspherical to oval, occurring in dense clusters or irregularly scattered in the skeletal network.

DISTRIBUTION Palaearctic.

HABITAT

In standing and running fresh water. BEHAVIOR

Little is known besides feeding ecology and reproductive biology.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET Filter-feeder, like all other sponges.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Overwinters as gemmules, the dormant stage. Viviparous, with sexual reproduction during the summer.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

Resources Books

Bergquist, Patricia R. Sponges. London: Hutchinson; Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1978.

Hooper, John N.A., and Rob W. M. van Soest, eds. Systema Porifera: A Guide to the Classification of Sponges. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2002.

Hooper, John N. A., and Felix Wiedenmayer. "Porifera." In Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Vol. 12, edited by A. Wells. Melbourne, Australia: CSIRO, 1994.

Moss, David, and Graham Ackers, eds. The UCS Sponge Guide. Ross-on-Wye: The Underwater Conservation Society, 1982.

Other van Soest, Rob W. M., Bernard Picton, and Christine Morrow. Sponges of the North East Atlantic. [CD-ROM] World Biodiversity Database CD-ROM Series. Windows version 1.0. Amsterdam: Biodiversity Center of ETI, Multimedia Interactive Software, 2000.

Wallie H. de Weerdt, PhD

Phylum Placozoa Number of families 1

Thumbnail description

A large, flat, amoeba-like creature up to 0.078 in (2 mm) in diameter; the grayish white body of the organism consists of several thousand cells that form two epithelia (thin layers of tissue composed of closely apposed cells) but are not organized into tissues and organs

Photo: Dorsal view of Trichoplax adhaerens. (Photo by Hidetaka Furuya. Reproduced by permission.)

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  • anna
    What is Aplysina Archeri diet?
    4 years ago

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