Sponges – but not the bath sort

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Common British sponge

We tend to think of natural sponges as being the kind we use in the bathroom but there are many different varieties living on our British sea shores. One of the commonest is the bright orange breadcrumb sponge Halichondria panicea (Pallas). It forms patches or mounds and can be quite extensive. The colour can be variable – being green in well lit situations. In shaded places like the rocky over hang in which the specimen above was photographed, it is usually orange. It was found on Burry Holms at the north end of Rhossili Bay, Gower. When damaged the sponge has a strong smell.

The picture below show the remains of a creature that looks and feels very like a sponge but it is, in fact, a soft coral. Its appearance gives it the rather gruesome common name of Dead Man’s Fingers; the Latin name is Alcyonium digitatum (Linnaeus). This example was found washed up at Whiteford Sands, Gower – just round the corner from Rhossili Bay.

A soft coral called Dead Man's Fingers

A Post from the Past [2009]

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