Ircinia strobilina

…a species of Irciniid demosponge which is known to inhabit a variety of marine waters, ranging from the Caribbean Sea to the coast of Florida, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, and Venezuela. I. strobilina is found in warm, shallow water which it anchors itself to a substrate, filtering the water around it for nutrients. I. strobilina is known to occur in exposed areas as it has chemical defenses which can cause temporary paralysis and loss of balance in predatory fish.


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Image: Universidad de Oviedo

“Toxic Finger-sponge” (Neogombata magnifica)

…a species of Podospongiid demosponge which is known to occur thorough the Red Sea and most of the Indian Ocean. True to its common name N. magnifica possesses the harmful toxin latrunculin, which it will release when threatened. N. magnifica is farmed commercially due to the ability of latrunculin to regulate the distribution of cadherin.


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Image: Alexander Vasenin

“Prickly Tube-sponge” (Callyspongia crassa)

…a species of Callyspongiid demosponge that boasts a specific distribution, ranging from the Red Sea east to the Seychelles. C. crassa is fairly large for a sponge, with some individuals reaching lengths up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) in size! Like most sponges, C. crass is a filter feeder, filtering the water around it for nutrients. 


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Image: Alexander Vasenin

Myxilla incrustans

…is a species of encrusting Myxillid demosponge which ranges from the Faroe Islands, off the coasts of Norway south along the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea. M. incrustans is typically found between the low water mark to a depth of 400m, where it will encrust on vertical rocks and areas exposed to tidal flows. 

M. incrustans is also known to occur in the North west Pacific Ocean and in Japanese waters where it is typically known to encrust the shells of clams in the genus Chalmys


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Image: Cwmhiraeth

Stove-pipe Sponge (Aplysina archeri)

…a species of Aplysinid tube sponge that occurs in the Atlantic and Caribbean, ranging from the Bahamas to Florida south to Bonaire. Like most sponges stove-pipe sponges are filter feeders, filtering the water around them for plankton and detritus as it passes by. The coloration of A. archeri is highly varied and individuals can range from brown to purple.


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Image: Nick Hobgood


Xestospongia testudinaria

…a large species of Petrosiid barrel sponge that occurs in waters around the Philippines, Australia, much of the western and central Indian Ocean, Indonesia, Malaya and New Caledonia. Like other members of the genus Xestospongia X. testudinaria can grow quite large, but in intertidal zones they will grow significantly smaller (around 3-8 inches). Like other sponges X. testudinaria is a filter feeder and will filter the water around it for nutrients. 


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Image(s): Albert Kok

“Eltanin Antenna” (Chondrocladia concrescens)

…a species of carnivorous Cladorhizid sponge that is native to the Cape Horn. C. concrescens was initially seen by the antarctic oceanographic ship  USNS Eltanin while it was photographing the sea bottom, due to its normal antenna-like structure many thought it was an extraterrestrial artifact of some sort. C. concrescens is in fact a sponge and uses its branches to capture passing food items, which is unusual as most sponges are filter feeders. 


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Image: USN

“Stony Sponge” (Petrosia ficiformis)

…a species of Petrosiid sponge which is widely distributed throughout the Mediterranean Sea (and surrounding areas) and the North Atlantic. Petrosia ficiformis is typically a purplish color, this is due to the symbiosis it holds with photosynthetic cyanobacteria. If devoid of light it can become a white color. 


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Image: Guido Picchetti

Orange Undercoat Sponge (Mycale laevis)

Also known as the “orange icing sponge” the orange undercoat sponge is a species of encrusting demosponge in the family Mycalidae which occurs in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Mycale laevis is known to grow in association on the under surfaces of certain species of corals (including Monastraea annularis, M. cavernosa, Porites asteroides, Agaricia agaricites, and Mycetophilia lamarckiana). 


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Image: Nick Hobgood