Sponges

Sponges are sessile animals whose bodies consist of a single cavity with a major exhalent opening and many smaller inhalant openings. The bodies also contain calcareous or siliceous spicules, or horny fibers, which provide support and exist in almost every color imaginable. There are three classes of sponge, Calcarea, Hexactinellida and Demospongiae, and over 1000 species. Sponges often resemble, and are mistaken for plants. Unlike plants, which rely rely on sunlight for photosynthesis, sponges inhabit both the shallow and deep water regions of the worlds seas and oceans.

The seas around the coast of Turkey were once important sponge producing areas, but the collectible bath sponge, (Spongia officinalis) no longer exists in commercially viable quantities. Many other species of sponge do flourish here and are too numerous to list in this guide. Anyone with a particular interest in finding, identifying and cataloguing the sponges which inhabit Turkish waters will find a wealth of study here.

BLACK SPONGE or DARK GREEN SPONGE

The most common and largest species of sponge in Turkey. It is normally attached to rocks, can be up to 120cm in diameter and often provides a comfortable resting place for the black green groupers.

TUBE SPONGES (Verongia aerophoba)

These bright yellow sponges grow to 40cms in height. It is a fairly common species and can be found both in shallow and deep water, attached to rocks or on sandy and shingle areas.

SURFACE ENCRUSTING SPONGES

Surface encrusting sponges are numerous and can be seen at all depths. They are distinctive, being smooth, often with a slimy feel and many exhalent holes over the surface. There are a wide range of species in Turkish waters in a variety of colors from bright red, green, brown and black.