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By: Phyllana Alper
Scientific name: Dysidea etheria
Common names: Heavenly Sponge or Ethereal Sponge
They reside around coral reefs and in grass beds in Lagoons on unconsolidated sediment attached to algae or blades of turtle grass.
It is most commonly found in shallow reefs near Florida, Cuba, and the Caribbean.
The skeletal structure is made of spongin fibers filled with foreign material.
The outside appearance of the sponge is filled with sharp conules (conical void elevations of the body surface of sponges) of about 1mm in height and 2mm apart.
The sponge exhibits both sexual and asexual reproduction.
It defends itself from predators with spicules (needle-like structures that provide structural support) and by toxins.
It recycles nutrients and breaks down organic material into food for other coral reef inhabitants and they keep the ecosystem clean.
It's known for living and growing on coral reefs.
Closely related to Dysidea avara, a whitish pink sponge located in the Mediterranean.
They have no economic importance.
They feed on plankton, bacteria, and other single celled organisms.
Organisms that feed on this sponge are seaslugs and some types of seastars.