Venus Flower Basket (Euplectella aspergillum)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Porifera
Class: Hexactenellida
Order: Lyssacinosidea
Family: Euplectellidae
Genus: Euplectella
Species: E. aspergillum

Physical Appearance:
The Venus' Flower Basket has a skeleton that is made from a glass-like substance and is also as fragile as glass, thus its name "Glass Sponge." There is a net like substance that surrounds the sponge called a trabecular net. The net is made of living amoeboid cells which form a tissue by fusion. While alive, the tissue of these sponges is white to creamy yellow, depending upon how much particulate material they have accumulated in their tissues. The dry specimens seen in museum collections has often been bleached to create the pure white color.

The sponges can be found worldwide in very deep oceans, but are most frequent in the deep Southern Pacific around the coasts of Japan, Philippines, and Australia. They thrive predominantly between 100 and 1000 meter depths where the water is very cold (2-11o C or 32-52o F) and the levels of silica are very high. This sponge must be attached to a solid such as a rock.

The sponge is found down deep, so it is not very active. The sponge filters water for food and releases any waste with the excess water.

This is an asexual sponge which has both male and female gametes. Released sperm enters through the inhalant current and fertilizes the ova. The ova develops into a larvae with in the sponge and with the help of cilia propels itself through the water. While it can swim freely for several days, it tends to settle down after about 12 hours.