Schulze's Tennis Ball Sponge
This hard and spiky spherical sponge, resembling a shaggy tennis ball, is attached to the seabed by a short stalk, and ranges in colour from pink to bright purple. The surface is covered with shallow depressions containing large pores (through which seawater is expelled). Internally the sponge has a system of canals and chambers. They inhale seawater through minute pores (not visible to the naked eye) using a current set up by rhythmic beating of flagella (whip-like cells called choanocytes) that line internal chambers. Food particles are captured by small hair-like cilia surrounding the base of the flagellum, passed into the choanocyte, and then engulfed by special amoeba-like cells (archaeocytes) inside the sponge body. The filtered sea water is then exhaled through the canal system and out through the large pores. Schulze’s Tennis Ball Sponge is a common species on coral reefs, usually found in sheltered areas and extending from 5-43 m depth. It is probably toxic and certainly causes skin irritation if touched.
The species occurs in tropical Australia and Melanesia.
Schulze’s Tennis Ball Sponge (Cinachyrella schulzei), QM SMI G313062
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