JS's picture

Yellow Sponge

Observed: 18th October 2013 By: JS
Cleveland Naturalists Field Club
JS’s reputation in Invertebrates
Yellow Sponge058

Please can anyone identify this 'sponge' found growing on a boulder in a rock pool

Species interactions

No interactions present.


dejayM's picture


Yes, I suspect it is a sponge but it might be overlaying a star ascidian (Botryllus schlosseri). That could have an interesting effect on its structure, noting the folded rays and lack of obvious large pores. It is quite possibly an off-colour Breadcrumb sponge (Halichondria panacea) lacking the usual rough and textured surface. The leading or even receding granular edge at the bottom is very interesting and reminiscent of fresh-water algae in polluted water (mine entrances).

JS's picture

Yellow Sponge

Thank you dejayM, It did have a few very large pores. I'll see if I can get a better photograph.

dejayM's picture


JS, yes, if you have access to it or similar ones it will be worth some study and more photos.
I see this is your first post, you should add an ID Breadcrumb sponge (Halichondria panacea) and suggest that you are not certain. Whether or not it is, matters little here, as it may attract some expertise (which is why you came). If it is H.panacea, then you will get agreements - agreements mean Icons.
Also re-attribute it, via edit, as an invertebrate (sponges are but algae not). AND tag it marine (as well as coastal).
Lastly, when (if) you add the new ID write a few ID Notes if you can and in Description write See Comments - far too many people will come and not browse relevant comments - there'll be more yet.
Then, after a cuppa, join us few here regularly -

dejayM's picture

A reputation icon!

Jolly well done. And now you have an Icon!
The new picture shows a Breadcrumb Sponge, I'm pretty certain. I might agree later and others will come.
Excellent pictures.
Now, maybe if someone from Admin comes they might be able to explain why the ID links to Wiki, EoL and NBN don't work (or didn't when I tried!)
Another here http://www.ispotnature.org/node/244895

ChrisMcA's picture

I wouldn't agree to breadcumb

I wouldn't agree to breadcumb sponge, as it doesn't, as far as I know, have this 'transparency' (ie showing channels) & usually has more prominent oscules. It looks much more like Protosuberites denhartogi, see http://www.habitas.org.uk/marinelife/sponge_guide/sponges.asp?item=C2500

dejayM's picture

Protosuberites denhartogi

Oh that's good Chris, I was hoping you'd come.
I'm inclined to agree - easy to say when there's an ID and with the Web to lean on.
It's quite telling here as well (Dave Fenwick)
I note it seems absent from my many books and may go by a previous name Protosuberites epiphytum in some web material.
Read up about it here, say - http://species-identification.org/species.php?species_group=sponges&id=384

Chris is trustworthy enough and kind (he hasn't put up the ID) so you should do it. It's a proper and worthy process, ID by suggestion and iteration.
Add that you cannot be certain. Again I would urge you to tag it Marine - it is. Once someone agrees, it'll become the likely ID but that may not be the end of it.
It's an excellent post.
Good wishes (and thanks ChrisMcA)

ChrisMcA's picture

Well my hesitating wasn't

Well my hesitating wasn't just goodwill,but that sponges are notoriously difficult to ID,& the habitas site quoted does say "a microscopic examination is essential" & "Reliable field identification characteristics are not yet known." (ie noone knows how to ID them without such examination), so I fear an ID might not be possible.

dejayM's picture

Prosuberites epiphytum

Yes, I've read a lot in the last few hours.
I think you have done it really, but as often is the case in iSpot, '...one cannot tell from a photo'.
I still believe it's worth an ID, even though agreeing may be difficult. Not all useful material has cautious warnings attached and some is very positive. There is a very demanding, but positive, paper (pdf) written in 2003 by von Soest & De Kluijver - (search).

Hayward & Ryland 2011 describe it under Prosuberites epiphytum and, in fact, most material IS under that pseudonym.
My suspicions are raised by the fact that few of my books (and I have most!) even mention it; NBN shows only six records - all far from the Cleveland Way of course! I doubt whether the iSpot database will recognise it.

Though iSpot seniors may not agree, I sometimes feel that agreeing to a 'difficult' ID is sometimes a way forward - I've done it before (and I've done it here!). It is incredibly comforting to be able to remove an agreement!

trudy-russell's picture

very interesting discussion

very interesting discussion underboulder species ID is something I am planning on practicing as all these incrusting species are so tricky!

Protosuberites denhartogi does seem likely however if Bernard Picton author of habitas and king of sponges says you cant ID without microscopic examination then we must agree with him. having the ID there is definitely useful but it best if there are not too many agreements as the more agreements the higher the confidence when the data is transferred to NBN etc and its important not to give a false sense of confidence

Trudy Russell
Marine Advisor
Natural England

To find out about what's going on in the south west check out http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8409

dejayM's picture


Now that's fair Trudy. So, as I've made my point, I shall remove my Agreement and HOPE that JS will go on to be a prolific and well informed Poster - hurry then!