Mycale (Arenochalina) laxissima (Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1864)
Variable colored crusts with large conules and large amounts of mucus
Shape and size: Massive crusts less than 5 cm thick; low massive lobate, or one or a few cups or tubes sometimes arising from a common mass.
Color: Variable, including black, dark blue to purple or reddish purple with blue tinges; orange to scarlet, or cream and rose with cinnamon tones, dark purple fibers and patches of iridescence. White in alcohol.
Surface: Large spine-like conules may be single, up to 5 mm tall, or compound, sometimes producing a rugose or irregularly lumpy surface. Usually covered by an iridescent whitish dermal membrane.
Consistency: Compressible but tough; fibers tough but flexible.
Apertures (oscules and ostia): Round; varying in size depending on specimen shape and size (1 to more than 10 cm across); usually single, apical in cup- or tube-shaped forms; few in massive specimens; may be indistinct. True oscules are small and lie within the large opening.
Odor, mucus, exudates: Copious sticky mucus.
Skeletal elements: Rods with 1 pointed end and 1 round slightly swollen end (subtylostyle) (200-240 x 2-4 μm). C-shapes (sigma) 70-80 μm long, and curved shafts with unequal recurved end plates (anisochela) 16-23 μm long.
Skeletal arrangement: Coarse meshwork of spongin fibers 50-300 μm across, packed with subtylostyles (15-30 per cross section), with roundish to rectangular meshes. Fibers that reach the surface form the stout conules with no superficial skeletal specialization.
Habitat: Chiefly on coral reefs; occasionally occurring in mangrove peat and harbors.
Distribution: Gulf of Mexico, South Florida and throughout the Caribbean. East and West Africa.
Remarks: Mycale mucifluens Pulitzer-Finalli (1986), an orange spiky crust, and Mycale jamaicaensis Pulitzer-Finalli (1986), an orange spiky cup, may be two morphotypes of M. laxissima. Both probably occur in South Florida as they are common in Jamaica and the Cayman islands. This species is placed in the subgenus Acamasina
Common name: Strawberry vase sponge
Links and Resources
South Florida Sponges: A Guide to Identification:
World Porifera Database:
Duchassaing De Fonbressin, P.; Michelotti, G. 1864. Spongiaires de la mer Caraïbe. Natuurkundige verhandelingen van de Hollandsche maatschappij der wetenschappen te Haarlem 21(2): 1-124, pls I-XXV.
Van Soest, R.W.M.; Hajdu, E. 2002. Family Mycalidae Lundbeck, 1905. Pp. 669-690. In Hooper, J. N. A. & Van Soest, R. W. M. (ed.) Systema Porifera. A guide to the classification of sponges. 1 (Kluwer Academic/ Plenum Publishers: New York, Boston, Dordrecht, London, Moscow).
Please cite this taxon page as
C. G. Messing, Diaz, M.C., Kohler, K.E., Reed, J.K., Ruetzler, K., Van Soest, R.W.M., Wulff, J, Zea, S. Freeman, C.J., and Thacker, R.W. 2010. Taxon page for Mycale (Arenochalina) laxissima (Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1864) . In: Porifera LifeDesk,
Description compiled by
C. G. Messing, Diaz, M.C., Kohler, K.E., Reed, J.K., Ruetzler, K., Van Soest, R.W.M., Wulff, J, and Zea, S. 2010. South Florida Sponges: A Guide to Identification.