Sponges


Image above by Keith Hiscock

A sponge Adreus fascicularis - Nationally scarce

Restricted in Britain to the south-western, this scarce sponge is fairly widespread in appropriate habitats off south Devon and is present around Lundy island. It has been recorded at several new locations by Seasearch surveys in recent years. The sponge lives on rock that is covered in a layer of sand - a very patchy habitat, restricted in extent. It is at risk from mobile fishing gear, as used by scallop dredgers.


Image above by Keith Hiscock


Yellow staghorn sponge Axinella dissimilis - This long-lived and charismatic sponge occurs widely on western coasts throughout the British Isles. Particular concentrations are to be found in appropriate habitats off south Devon and off Lundy island. The species lives on rocky parts of the seabed. Research has shown it to be extremely slow growing and individuals can be very old, perhaps several hundred years old. Populations seem currently to be stable. However, the sponges are susceptible to mobile fishing gear (although this is not a method generally used on the rough seabed where they live) and they can also become entangled in set and lost nets. There is concern that the use of tangle nets laid over rocky seabed to catch European Spiny Lobsters (another Devon Special Species and one whose populations have recently much recovered) may result in an increased in sponge loss and harm populations.

Further sources of information:

The Marine Life Information Network