Form: Thinly encrusting sponge with open texture to the surface and obvious excurrent channels.
Colour: Grey, cream.
Consistency: Fragile, thin sheet.
Surface: Surface with granular appearance due to ostia.
Apertures: Oscules are transparent rimmed and inconspicuous.
Skeleton: Plumose columns of large, almost smooth acanthostyles, echinated by smaller spined acanthostyles, surface bouquets of subtylostyles.
Spicules: Long, almost smooth styles measuring 350–1000 μm by 8–10 μm, with no development of the head (a). Minute spines are visible under the SEM. Acanthostyles (b) are 65–240 μm by 4–8 μm, with a slightly tylote head, entirely spined with small spines. Ectosomal styles (d) are 340–750 μm by 2–3 μm, smooth with a slightly tylote head. Toxas (c) are 50–80μm by 0.5–3 μm, distinctively shaped, with a small central flexion and thickened in the mid portion, similar to those of Ophlitaspongia kildensis Howson & Chambers, 1999. The majority are in the thicker part of the range but there are also some very thin, hair-like, toxas.
Habitat: Mostly recorded from deep water but recently found on the surface of a shipwreck at 30m on Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland.
Distribution Map from NBN: Grid map (fast) : Interactive map (slower, requires login to view records) : National Biodiversity Network mapping facility, data for UK.
Identity: The external appearance is similar to other thin encrusting Microciona species but most shallow-water species are orange in colour. It is not possible to identify this species without a specimen for spicule examination.
Editors: Claire Goodwin & Bernard Picton
|Picton, B.E., Morrow, C.C. & van Soest, R.W.B., 2011. [In] Sponges of Britain and Ireland |
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