I Am Pretty Sure I Know What This Is

Images: 

I am pretty sure I know what this is; I am just looking for knowledgeable confirmation.

I think it is a lavender rope sponge.  It is quite spectacular, in color and design.  It looks like an abstract underwater sculpture.  I would guess the "tubes" are are, maybe, six-feet long and 5/8-inch in diameter.  I found it in Key Largo, in 12 feet of water.

Marty

Marty's rope sponge ID

Marty,

This does look a lot like the lavender rope sponge, but could possibly also be the row pore rope sponge (Aplysina cauliformis) or the scattered pore rope sponge (Aplysina fulva). The lavender rope sponge (Niphates erecta) grows to about 4 ft. in length and is normally found at depths from between 40-100 ft. Did you notice any zoanthids or brittle stars covering the sponge? This is common with the lavender rope sponge. If you did not notice any other creatures covering it, this sponge may more likely be the row pore or the scattered pore, which both look very similar.

The row pore rope sponge is found in depths of 40-130 ft. and has branches that curve upwards toward the ends, as seen in your photos. The scattered pore rope sponge forms massive bushlike structures, similar to the "underwater sculpture" you described, and is found in shallower depths, from 10-120 ft. Both the row pore and the scattered pore sponge grow to be about 10 ft. in size. 

We hope this information is helpful!

- The REEF Interns

Perfect Answer

It was in 12 feet of water; I am declaring it a scattered pore rope sponge, even though it was lavender in color.

Thank you so much for your help.  I wait patiently before asking for more help.  You are a great resource, and this is true education.

Marty

 

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