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The Sponges of the Pacific Northwest

Velvety Red Sponges, Fish, Vancouver Island, BC Coastal Region, Pacific Northwest
Velvety Red Sponge, Photo By Bud Logan

Sponges are fixed or sedentary animals that are quite common inhabitants of most of the worlds marine environments. They are very common in the waters along the BC coast. They can be seen from the inter tidal zone right down to over 700 meters deep. There are even a few species that live in freshwater environments.

They can be a thin encrusting mat or can come in tall erect structures that can reach to over 2 meters tall.

There are over 270 various species in the waters along the BC coast with many more types over the world, they are all beautiful and fascinating to see.

They feed by siphoning as they draw water into spores in their bodies, then the water is expelled through larger holes. They filter out the nutrients and other tiny bits of food. They are themselves, eaten by sea stars like the leather and blood stars and chitons. A few are eaten by nudibranchs.

They may reproduce sexually and asexually. This helps keep them alive in their habitats. Most are both male and female. In sexual reproduction, they may play either role. The male sponge would release sperm into the water, which would travel and then enter a female sponge. After fertilization happens in the sponge, the larva are released into the water. They float around for a few days and then stick to a solid surface to begin its growth into an adult sponge.

They are also able to reproduce asexually through budding. This is when a small piece of sponge is broken off but is still able to survive and grow into another sponge. They are also able to repair damages to their bodies. These characteristics of sponges are ideal because even small parts of sponges may survive in the water. Diversity is created when different sponges reproduce with other different sponges.

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