Verongula gigantea

Verongula gigantea is a large sponge that can reach 70 cm in height and a diameter of 15 to 50 cm. This sponge is shaped like an inverted cone, and its walls are relatively thin given the size of the sponge. It belongs to the class Demospongiae, and within this class, to the order Verongiida, and to the family Aplysinidae. It inhabits the pristine waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Bahamas Islands, always associated with coral environments. It is commonly found on rocky ledges or on coral walls and at depths of between 10 and 40 meters.

The exterior of Verongula gigantea is usually greenish to purple in color, presenting a distinctive lattice-like netting, which is more distinctive in young specimens than in adults. The interior of the cone is usually yellowish in color and its surface is smoother, although with numerous exhaling holes between 3 and 7 mm in diameter.

The feeding of Verongula gigantea is by filtration of the surrounding water column. Through a multitude of small pores throughout its body, it inhales the surrounding water, and by means of specialized flagellated cells, creates the necessary current to generate the water current through its body, thereby trapping small organic particles or bacteria from which it obtains the energy and compounds necessary for growth.

The breeding season of Verongula gigantea begins with the gradual drop in sea temperatures during the autumn months. This reduction in temperature induces the production of spermatozoa, which are released into the current, and upon entering the interior of another specimen, fertilize the eggs, giving rise to planktonic larvae that will later settle on the rocky bottom.

There are records mentioning the antimicrobial activity of extracts made from Verongula gigantea specimens. Extracts of this sponge have also been tested and determined to have potential as sedative agents, since in the experiments a significant reduction of locomotor activity in animals was observed.


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