MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

A sponge (Suberites massa)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

Suberites massa is a massive hemispherical sponge, bright orange or whitish-yellow in colour, that resembles a human brain. It is usually about fist-sized but may grow up to 30 cm high and 10 cm in diameter. It is composed of irregular connecting ridges with small pores on the surface. The troughs between the ridges may become filled with silt. The surface is fairly firm and rough to touch.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Suberites massa has also been recorded in the Stour Estuary on the east coast of England (Essex / Suffolk boundary). It has also been reported at 3 sites on the south coast of England; Torbay, Fleet Lagoon, and in Poole Harbour.

Global distribution

Occurs south from Britain around the coast of France and northern Spain, and around the north coast of the Mediterranean.

Habitat

Suberites massa is found in harbours, estuaries and inlets, where the salinity may be variable, the turbidity high and there are moderate to strong tidal currents. It colonizes hard substrata such as rock, walls, boulders, stones and shells, and it may become free standing where it overgrows these. In the few sites in Britain that it has been recorded it occurs sublittorally although it may occur on shaded areas at extreme low water.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Massive hemispheroidal sponge, orange or whitish-yellow in colour, up to 30 cm in height and 10 cm in diameter.
  • Body composed of irregular connecting ridges that have small pores, or oscula, on the surface.
  • The surface is fairly firm and slightly rough to touch.
  • There is significant contraction of body size out of water.
  • The skeleton consists of siliceous spicules classified as tylostyles (pin-like with a pinched bulbous end) requiring microscopic examination for identification, and arranged radially.

Additional information

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Listed by

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Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  2. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  3. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid

  4. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.  Accessed 01 April 2017

  5. Van Soest, R.W.M., Picton, B. & Morrow, C., 2000. Sponges of the North East Atlantic. [CD-ROM] Windows version 1.0. Amsterdam: Biodiversity Center of ETI, Multimedia Interactive Software. [World Biodiversity Database CD-ROM Series.]

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Avant, P. 2005. Suberites massa A sponge. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/1766

Last Updated: 13/05/2005