Boring sponge (Cliona celata)
|Researched by||Emma Snowden||Refereed by||Admin|
|Other common names||Sulphur sponge||Synonyms||-|
A large and conspicuous sponge occurring in two distinct forms. One is the boring form, recognizable as yellow papillae sticking out of limestone (calcareous rock, mollusc shells etc.); the other is a large massive (also known as 'raphyrus'), wall-shaped sponge covered with characteristic flattened papillae.
The massive form has raised, rounded ridges up to 40 cm across. Large oscules with raised rims are found along the tops of the ridges. It often forms a thick plate-like structure standing on its edge with large specimens growing up to 1 m across and 50 cm high. The surface of this stage is evenly covered by tuberculate inhalant papillae. Often bright to deep yellow, becoming darker out of water. Sometimes observed with red colouration (algae) around oscular (exhalent) openings. The whole sponge shows a noticeable decrease in size when removed from the water. The consistency of this sponge is firm and inflexible with a tough outer layer.
Recorded distribution in Britain and IrelandCliona celata is widespread around the coast of Britain and Ireland although the massive form is only common around the south west coasts of Britain and lacking in the North Sea. The massive form apparently reaches its easterly limit around Dorset.
Global distributionWidely distributed along all western European coastlines. Distributed from Norway, Iceland and the western Baltic Sea, to the Mediterranean.
HabitatBoth forms occur on a variety of coasts ranging from wave exposed, open coasts to silty estuaries, sometimes at considerable depths. The species can withstand sediment.
- Bright to deep yellow colouration.
- May have red colouration around oscular openings.
- Evenly distributed inhalant sieve-like openings.
- Firm and inflexible with a tough outer layer.
- The only Cliona species without microscleres (microscopic examination is necessary).
Two forms; boring and massive:
- Visible as yellow lobes (rounded tips of papillae) sticking out of limestone rock, shells etc.
- Often forms a thick plate-like structure standing on its edge, up to 1 m across and 25 cm thick.
- Evenly covered with tuberculate retractable inhalant papillae, 2-5 mm in diameter which project up to 1 cm above the surface when extended but not noticeable when out of water. The surface between these papillae is more or less smooth.
- Large oscules with raised rims are found along the tops of ridges.
The massive form develops when the sponge has outgrown its habitat, or when it has completely filled crevices in calcareous rocks into which it cannot bore. Cliona celata is the only excavating sponge in NW Europe developing the massive form; other species of Cliona only occur in the boring form. The boring form is very common in oyster and mussel beds, where they cause some damage to shell fish farming. Favoured shells are Ostrea edulis, Magallana gigas, Crepidula fornicata and Arctica islandica. Cliona celata may be confused with the similarly coloured Cliona lobata but Cliona lobata has much smaller and more numerous papillae.
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OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System), 2023. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2023-12-02
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Last Updated: 12/09/2007