19 November 2009

A new sponge species - including a Singapore specimen!

A new sponge species has been described from specimens from Asia, including one "collected from intertidal reef flats of Singapore during low tides".
Suberites diversicolor spec. nov. has a diverse display of colour-morphs including olive-green, blue, purple, red-orange, or orange-yellow. It is encrusting or massive with small protrusions or larger globular branches.

Originally thought to be specific to anchialine lakes -- small bodies of seawater that are entirely surrounded by land -- the sponge was found to be more widespread in inshore systems. During the period when anchialine lake in Indonesia were being surveyed a very similar species of Suberites was observed in Singapore by Lim Swee Cheng. Subsequently, the species was encountered in coastal mangrove systems in Indonesia, similar lake systems in Vietnam and a man-made marine pool in Darwin, northern Australia.

More details in the paper L.E. Becking, S.C. Lim. A new Suberites (Demospongiae: Hadromerida: Suberitidae) from the tropical Indo-West Pacific on Zoologische Medelingen, 83 (September 2009).

Wow! There sure is a lot to learn about our shores. And our humble marine life can help with understanding more about marine life elsewhere too!

Hooray for Swee Cheng for yet another sponge discovery. Swee Cheng has written a great field guide to Singapore sponges which you can take with you on your next shore trip.

Thanks to Dr Tan Swee Hee for the heads up on this article!


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