Introducing the 3rd Edition!

With this edition of the Sponge Guide, we present over 230 species morphs of sponges from the Caribbean region. Our catalog now includes over 2,100 images that have been tagged with searchable physical characteristics.


We have begun to provide composite images of skeletal structures, a primary tool for identification, for 49 species morphs. In addition, we've expanded the regions we've visited and cataloged to capture more of the geographic and habitat variation of these animals.


Finally, you'll notice some new search features, detailed descriptions and notes, and many other features as you browse and explore the Sponge Guide, 3rd Edition.


Just click the Find a Sponge tab on the right to begin.  Enjoy!


Sponges are important members of coral reef ecosystems.  They filter water, cycle nutrients, and provide a home to numerous cryptic organisms. With the decline of corals, sponges have become the main habitat-forming organisms on many Caribbean reefs.


Species of sponges differ in shape, color, texture. However, even individuals of the same species can differ in their appearance between geographic areas, and also between habitats.


Every image presented in this database has been examined and the species identification has been carried out using established taxonomic techniques.


Because of their variability, identifying sponges can be a difficult task. Often, microscopic examination of the skeleton, composed of organic (protein) tissue fibers and skeletal elements, called spicules, is necessary in order to distinguish different species. With this 3rd edition, we have started to include composite images of spicules and tissue sections, together with detailed descriptions and taxonomic comments, to help in the identification.

 

We hope that you find this tool useful and gain a better appreciation
for the wonderful world of Caribbean sponges!

 

Data used from the Sponge Guide can be referenced as:
Zea, S., Henkel, T.P., and Pawlik, J.R. 2014.  The Sponge Guide: a picture guide to Caribbean sponges.  3rd Edition. Available online at www.spongeguide.org.  Accessed on: 2014-12-19 .