A sponge is a colony of animals. It is made of a layer of cells that builds a wall in the shape of a tube or bowl. These cells pump water through the sponge's wall, allowing the sponge to capture microscopic plankton for food. This Orange Barrel Sponge lives at a depth of 50 feet. It is 4 feet tall and 2 feet across. Sponges grow slowly; as slow as 1/2 inch per year. This sponge may be nearly 100 years old!
Barrel Sponges are among the largest of all sponges. They may be homes to a variety of invertebrates, including many types of starfish. Some fish may take shelter in Barrel Sponges at night, where they are safe and out of sight while they rest and sleep. Sponges this large may be brittle, so it is important not to touch them or put objects inside them. This will help protect them from damage.
This sponge was living on a reef called Tunnels on the west coast of the island of Grand Turk.