Schulze's Tennis Ball Sponge

Cinachyrella schulzei

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)
Schulze’s Tennis Ball Sponge (Cinachyrella schulzei), QM SMI G313062

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