Sponge Gallery

Here are around 200 examples of the approximately 4600 species (OTUs) described in SpongeMaps. Click on a photograph to expand a brief summary of the species. Click onto the Go to link that takes you to a species page (either the Atlas of Living Australia or within SpongeMaps) that provides more in-depth information. If you want access to all species, sign-up as a Member. Enjoy!

Aru Island Axinella demosponge
Aru Island Axinella demosponge

Axinella aruensis (Hentschel, 1912) (OTU QM0153) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] Palmate digitate fan, colour ranging from yellow, orange, red to brown, with a slimy very smooth surface optically, microscopically micropapillose, with stellate oscular openings on one side of the fan. Common on the northwest tropical and subtropical coasts, rare on the north east coast of Australia, with the type locality of Aru Island in southeast Indonesia.

Lori Bell's Axinella demosponge
Lori Bell's Axinella demosponge

Axinella loribellae Alvarez & Hooper, 2009 (OTU QM1279) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] This thin burnt orange sponge fan is so far only known from the Northern Territory, living in a high current and highly sedimented environment.

Prolific Axinella demosponge
Prolific Axinella demosponge

Axinella proliferans Ridley, 1884 (OTU QM1873) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] Fan-shaped with lamellae in one plane, yellow alive, beige in ethanol, small oscules on margins of fan, firm but compressible texture, optically smooth but microscopically uneven surface with irregular conulose projections scattered. Uncommon, known only from the Indian Ocean (Seychelles) and Indo-west Pacific (Chuuk Atoll).

Sinuous Axinella demosponge
Sinuous Axinella demosponge

Axinella sinoxea Alvarez & Hooper, 2009 (OTU QM0267) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] Stipitate flabellate fan with serrate digitate margins, orange alive, large oscules with stellate sculpturing on one side of the fan, texture firm but flexible, optically smooth surface, microscopically conulose, with special pore areas (stellate grooves). So far known only from northwest Australia (NT and WA), with one record from the GBR.

Orange drinking cup demsponge
Orange drinking cup demsponge

Cymbastela cantharella (Lévi, 1983) (OTU QM0914) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] Short erect cup-shaped sponge with thin lamellate walls, pale orange alive, beige preserved, oscules abundant throughout interior surface of lamellae producing concentric striations within interior of cup, firm, flexible, slightly compressible, surface of lamellae predominantly smooth with distinct differences between interior and exterior faces of the cup. Known only from New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

Concentric-cup demosponge
Concentric-cup demosponge

Cymbastela concentrica (Lendenfeld, 1887) (OTU QM0514) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae) Known from Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and a few records from New Caledonia, this olive-brown to olive-green cup sponge has a distinctive growth form of concentric cups growing inside each other. Its colouration is predominantly due to chlorophyll pigments from its resident (symbiotic cyanobacteria.

Coral reef cup demosponge
Coral reef cup demosponge

Cymbastela coralliophila Hooper & Bergquist, 1992 (OTU QM0664) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] Large vase-shaped, cup-shaped or simply lamellate growth forms, typically mottled olive-brown or olive-green alive with maroon-brown tinge externally due to the presence of chlorophyll pigments, white when preserved, oscules very small, dispersed on tips of microconules, texture compressible, spongy, difficult to tear, surface optically smooth. Common in the Coral Sea.

Marsh’s cup demosponge
Marsh’s cup demosponge

Cymbastela marshae Hooper & Bergquist, 1992 (OTU QM0725) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] Thinly lamellate lobes forming asymmetrical vases or symmetrical cups, evenly pigmented olive-green and maroon alive, beige in ethanol, very small oscules scattered over interior of cups, texture firm, flexible, slightly compressible, smooth to touch, difficult to tear, surface even with few low bumps and ridges on exterior, oscules abundant on interior surface of cups. Known from WA.

Olive green stalked cup demosponge
Olive green stalked cup demosponge

Cymbastela stipitata (Bergquist & Tizard, 1967) (OTU QM0005) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] This species is thought to be endemic to northern Australia. It is characteristically found in high energy sedimented environments such as reef flats and shallow subtidal reefs. Its green colouration is probably due to the chlorophyll pigments from its resident (symbiotic) cyanobacteria.

Three-chalice demosponge
Three-chalice demosponge

Cymbastela tricalyciformis (Bergquist, 1970) (OTU QM3613) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae) Originally described from New Zealand this species has recently been collected from Tasmania and submerged reefs on top of seamounts on the Norfolk Ridge. Shallow water species may have a mauve pigmentation due to the chlorophyll pigments from its symbiotic cyanobacteria whereas deeper water species may be colourless.

Western cup demosponge
Western cup demosponge

Cymbastela vespertina Hooper & Bergquist, 1992 (OTU QM1055) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] Thin-walled, lamellate cup shaped sponges, with larger specimens consisting of 2-4 concentric cups inside each other, dark maroon brown to greyish purple alive, always evenly pigmented, dark brown or dark grey preserved, small pores scattered over surface of lamellae, firm, slightly compressible texture, surface optically smooth, microscopically microconulose. Nth and NW Australia.

Southern Dragmacidon demosponge
Southern Dragmacidon demosponge

Dragmacidon australe (Bergquist, 1970) (OTU QM0662) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] Thickly encrusting, irregular bulbous surface with tight low-set papillose projections on upper surface, bright red to orange red alive, oscules small, irregularly scattered with slightly raised oscular lip, texture harsh, compressible, spiky, surface highly papillose, roughened. Widespread throughout tropical Australasia, Indo-Malay and Micronesia regions.

Debitus’s tennis ball demosponge
Debitus’s tennis ball demosponge

Dragmacidon debitusae (Hooper & Lévi, 1993) (OTU QM1085) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] Massive, subspherical, attached to soft substrates, orange to orange-yellow alive, light brown preserved, oscules scattered over upper surface, with slightly raised membranous lip, texture soft, compressible, relatively easy to tear, fleshy external surface. So far known only from New Caledonia.

Beautiful rhaphoxyid demosponge
Beautiful rhaphoxyid demosponge

Pararhaphoxya pulchra (Brøndsted, 1924) (OTU QM2637) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] Branching cylindrical digits on a short basal holdfast attached to the substrate, oscules rare and very small, pale orange brown alive, pale brown preserved, firm but flexible texture, surface optically flaccid in life, microscopically villose. Known only from the North Island of New Zealand.

Orange thistle-fan demosponge
Orange thistle-fan demosponge

Phakellia carduus (Lamarck, 1814) (OTU QM0107) [Demospongiae, Halichondrida, Axinellidae] Digitate thin fan with short holdfast, orange alive, pale or light brown preserved, texture firm, harsh, flexible, surface ornamentation macroscopically even, microscopically conulose. Uncommon in the Indo-west Pacific.