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Rocky Shore Trail
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Bread-crumb Sponge (Halichondria panicea)

Bread-crumb Sponge (Halichondria panicea)

This sponge is extremely variable in its form encrusting on rocks. Often it is just a few small sections filling a crevice whilst other times it forms a large mass projecting clear of the rock. Colours may be green or yellow.

Bread Crumb Sponge lies within the crevices and under the humid fronds of the wracks, filling the crevices with its yellow or green asymmetrical mass. All this helps to reduce desiccation. Parts of the sponge not protected soon die. They also form dense colonies in deep rocky clefts and overhangs of rock where water continues to drip when the tide goes out. The holes on the surface (oscula) pass water and waste out; fresh seawater with plankton and detritus is absorbed through the surface. It is very sensitive to desiccation. Most are hermaphrodite but cross fertilisation is usual as the male and female gonads ripen at different times.

Sponges have fantastic regenerative powers (present day cancer researchers are looking at growth regulating chemicals in marine sponges). Even so they reproduce sexually.

Abundant on most rocky shores in Europe and even on depositing shores where stones occur. Distribution includes the Mediterranean.


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