Diversity
Diversity of reef organisms

A healthy reef supports a rich diversity of organisms.  CLICK ON an icon to see some examples of Caribbean reef plants and animals. Throughout the VIRTUAL DIVE we’ll see these and many other reef-dwellers and will study what they do, how they behave, and how they interact. 

hot buttons for diversity section of BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website diversity of corals diversity of gorgonians diversity of sponges diversity of worms diversity of molluscs diversity of crustaceans diversity of echinoderms diversity of tunicates diversity of turtles diversity of fishes diversity of sharks/mammals
icon for sponge-diversity section of diversity in BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website

Sponges

Although there are only about one-third the number of sponge species on Caribbean reefs than on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia (500 vs. 1500), their large sizes, colours, and visual obviousness belie their smaller abundance.

 


cartoon of seahorse dive leader for BIOLOGY OF CARIBBEAN CORAL REEFS website photograph of Caribbean sponges taken from a video

"Caribbean reefs are unique in their diversity of sponges. There are about 300 species, and we’re probably looking at about a tenth of them right now" - Turneffe Island, Belize & Cayman Islands 2006

NOTE present estimates indicate about 500 species

 



A few of the larger species are shown in the photographs below.
photograph of a sponge Xestospongia muta
Giant barrel sponge Xestospongia muta 0.1X

Brown tube-sponge Ageles conifera 0.5X
photograph of volcano sponge Calyx podatypa
Volcano sponge Calyx podatypa 0.5X
   

photograph of scattered-pore rope-sponge Aplysina fulva
Scattered-pore rope-sponge Aplysina fulva 0.3X

photograph of pink vase-sponge Niphates digitalis
Pink vase-sponge Niphates digitalis 0.3X

photograph of azure vase-sponge Callyspongia plicifera
Azure vase-sponge Callyspongia plicifera 0.4X


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diversity of corals diversity of gorgonians diversity of sponges diversity of worms diversity of molluscs diversity of crustaceans diversity of echinoderms diversity of tunicates diversity of turtles diversity of fishes diversity of sharks/mammals