The Velvety Red Sponge of the Pacific Northwest
The Velvety Red Sponge can be found from Alaska to California, you can see it at low tide on most parts of the BC Coastal Region.
The velvety red sponge is a red to orange sponge that can grow more than 1 meter across. It has a soft, smooth, but very tough surface that has many small star like holes scattered around its surface.
These sponges commonly grow on narrow crevices and on the undersides of ledges where they are not affected by sunlight. They often form small irregularly shaped patches that thinly encrust the surrounding rocks. You can see this in the photo.
Not very often do you find a velvety red sponge that does not have a small red nudibranch or 2 crawling about its surface, these nudibranchs eat the sponge and take on its color. You will be surprised at how well they blend into the sponge.
This sponge is a filter feeder, It will collect and consume bacteria, tiny particles and dissolved organic matter as it draws water into its porous surface.
Sponges are animals with very dense skeletons that are well adapted to their environments. Their skeletons allow them to live on either hard or soft sediments. Their pores allow them to filter the water around them for food. Inside the sponge, there are flagella that create currents so their collar cells may trap the food.
The Red Velvety Sponges have strong structures that are able to handle the high volume of water that flows through them each day. By constricting certain of their openings, they are able to control the amount of water that flows through them. they have been around for a very long time. They are very beautiful to look at.