Home > Invertebrates > Sponges

Updated 8/14/2016

Phylum Porifera, Sponges

Sponges are filter-feeders composed of flagellated cells reinforced by spongin fiber and (usually) tiny structural rods called spicules.  These spicules (or absence thereof) are used for species identification in the lab; field identification in person or by photograph is not especially reliable.  They may be soft and delicate or hard as rock.  Sponges are effective biological filters, extracting bacteria from the current, improving water quality.  Chemicals extracted from these bacteria are then utilized for defense from grazing organisms, and may contribute to the sponge's coloration.  Despite this, some fish and mollusks prey upon specific types of sponge.  Due to the sharp spicules and toxic chemicals, contact should be avoided.  Many species are found worldwide, carried from place to place on ship hulls or in ballast water.

 

HAWAII

Liosina paradoxa

Kewalo Pipe, Oahu, 50 feet

PARADOXICAL SPONGE

Locally common at scuba depths.  Attains height of 4 inches.  Hawai'i & the Indo-Pacific.

 

Leiodermatium sp.

Sharks Cove, Oahu, 25 feet

WAVY CAVE SPONGE

A rigid species common on cave ceilings.  Preyed upon by Fellow's Nudibranch.

 

Dysidea herbacea

Okoe Bay, Hawaii, 45 feet

BLUE DYSIDEA

Common on reefs exposed to surge.

Halichondria coerulea

Makai Pier, Waimanalo, Oahu, 6 feet

TURQUOISE TUBE SPONGE

Common in harbors.

 

Batzella sp.

Blowhole, Oahu, 20 feet

GREEN ENCRUSTING SPONGE

Occurs on cavern ceilings exposed to wave action.

 

Timea sp.

Blowhole, Oahu, 20 feet

ORANGE HYDROID SPONGE

Occurs on cavern ceilings exposed to wave action.  Embedded with tiny hydroid polyps.

 

Chondrosia chucalla

Makapu'u tidepool, Oahu



Blowhole, Oahu, 20 feet

MEANDERING SPONGE

A tough rubbery species common on reefs exposed to wave action.  Hawaii & the Indo-Pacific.

Spirastrealla vagabunda

Kewalo, Oahu, Hawaii, 40 feet

Puako, Hawaii, 20 feet

VAGABOND BORING SPONGE

A common species that erodes calcareous rock using acid.  Hawaii & the Indo-Pacific. 

Leucetta spp.

Blowhole, Oahu, 20 feet

 

Makapu'u, Oahu, 20 feet



Sharks Cove, Oahu, 25 feet


Pupukea Firehouse, O'ahu, 20 feet

LEUCETTA

Common on cavern ceilings or under slabs exposed to surge.

Hyrtios sp.

Blowhole, Oahu, 20 feet

YELLOW HYRTIOS

Common on cavern ceilings exposed to surge.  Surface has prominent starburst-like ridges.

 

Dactylospongia sp.

Blowhole, Oahu, 20 feet

YELLOW HYRTIOS

Common on cavern ceilings exposed to surge.  Surface has prominent ridges with excurrent pores.

Phorbas sp.

Kewalo Pipe, Oahu, 50 feet

RED PHORBAS

Locally common on reefs.  Soft with gentle ridges between pores.

 

Suberites sp.

Lana'i Lookout, Oahu, 25 feet

BLUE SPONGE

Locally common on shaded vertical walls exposed to surge.

 

Spongia oceania

Makapu'u, Oahu, 20 feet

MASSIVE BLACK SPONGE

Locally common on hard reef exposed to heavy surge.  Preyed upon by the Blackmargin Nudibranch.

 

Assorted species

Blowhole, Oahu, 20 feet

 

Pearl & Hermes Reef lagoon, 30 feet

Mokuleia Bay, Maui, 20 feet

 

Blowhole, Oahu, 20 feet

Makapu'u tidepool, Oahu

 

Moku o Loe, Oahu, 6 feet

 

Firehouse, Oahu, 25 feet

 

Ft. Kamehameha, Oahu, 3 feet

 

Ft. Kamehameha, Oahu, 8 feet

 

 

 

Moku o Loe, Oahu, 5 feet

 

Sea Tiger Wreck, Oahu, 85 feet

 

Blowhole, Oahu, 25 feet

 

Cargo Pier, Midway Atoll, 6 feet

 

100-foot Hole, Waikiki, Oahu, 85 feet

 

Kewalo Hump, Oahu, 90 feet

 

Moku o Loe, Oahu, 4 feet

 

Sharks Cove, Oahu, 35 feet

 

Lana'i Lookout, Oahu, 20 feet

 



Rockpiles/Ala Moana, Oahu, 30 feet

Ala Wai harbor, Oahu, 3 feet

 



Makapu'u, Oahu, 120 feet

Sand Island, Oahu, 10 feet

  


INDO-PACIFIC

Dysidea sp.

 

Wakatobi, Indonesia

 


WESTERN ATLANTIC

Plakortis sp.

 

Amoray Resort, Key Largo, FL, 3 feet

Giant Barrel Sponge, Xestospongia muta

9-foot Stake, Key West, 25 feet