Row Pore Rope Sponge (Aplysina cauliformis)

Aplysina cauliformis

by B. N. Sullivan

The Row Pore Rope Sponge (Aplysina cauliformis) is a Caribbean species.  Its common name describes it well.  It grows ropy-looking branches, and its excurrent openings ('pores') are arranged in long rows along the lengths of the branches.  The ropy branches can grow quite long -- to a maximum of 180 to 240 cm (about six to eight feet ).  The longest branch of the one in the photo above was about 150 cm long (about five feet).  This sponge comes in several pretty colors: purple, lavender, and red.

This sponge is fairly common throughout the Caribbean, and may also be seen in the Bahamas.  It usually inhabits deep reef slopes and walls, at depths below 12 meters (40 ft) .  I photographed the one above at a dive site called Garden Eel Wall on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands.

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