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The Seashore

Orange Sponges

This may appear to be a strange title, lumping all sponges that are orange together, but it is one of convenience. There are a number of different species found on rocky shores

A common species that grows by encrusting damp cracks and crevices is Hymeniacidon perleve spp.

Hymeniacidon

Hymeniacidon perleve in cracks amongst barnacles of the middle shore

The surface of this sponge is rough and the oscula are randomly distributed over the surface. It grows on the middle shore but becomes a larger encrustation over the rocks of the lower shore. Its distribution and presence will be determined by the humidity and water presence and so does particularly well in the sublittoral. Often on teh shore it is present as a tiny orange blob to an area 50 cm across. It depends on moisture. The growth is best in the summer, often regressing in size over the winter. The seawater enters the body of the sponge through tiny holes (ostia) on the surface and hence the roughness. Water passes out of the body through larger holes, the oscula. The flow of water is maintained by flagellae that beat inside the cavity of the sponge. The sponge can reproduce sexually, forming a larvae that is released in late summer.

Suberites sp.

A rubbery, often bright orange sponge found in the lower shore is likely to be Suberites ficus, the Sea Orange. It may not be in the shape of the fruit orange although they will be large and conspicuous. The oscula will be obvious but few in number.

 


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