Giant Barrel Sponge
The Giant Barrel Sponge can grow well over 1 m in diameter and is typically brownish-red to brownish-grey in shallow water, becoming more pinkish with depth. This species has a hard, stony texture and can grow for hundreds, even thousands of years.
This species has a varied form, often a very large barrel-like shape, slightly cone-shaped at the top. Shapes of individual sponges within colonies can vary widely from short to tall, thin to wide, with the surface being smooth, rough or rugged.
The Giant Barrel Sponge lives symbiotically with cyanobacterial, bacteria that obtain their energy through photosynthesis, which gives colour to the sponge. This is a similar relationship to that of coral polyps living with symbiotic algae.
The Giant Barrel Sponge undergoes sporadic bleaching events which do not cause sponge death, and from which the sponge recovers. This is part of the normal life cycle of this sponge and demonstrates that the sponge does not depend on the symbiotic bacteria to exist. Bleaching events occur more often with depth, and the reason for these events is not yet fully understood.
Diving with Massive Sponges
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