Yellow Tube Sponge – Aplysina aerophoba
The Yellow Tube Sponge, also known as the Golden Sponge, is a species in the class of the Demospongiae and thus belongs to the phylum of the Porifera. Aplysina aerophoba was first described in 1833 by Nardo. Aerophoba is Greek and means fear of air. It bears this scientific name because it blushes blue when it comes into contact with air.
The Yellow Tube Sponge, as its name implies, has an intense yellow colour. It forms colonies that reach a diameter of more than one meter and 20cm in height. Single tubes are about 4cm high and can have a diameter of 2.5cm.
The ends of the tubes are flat with an outflow opening in the middle.
Habitat and Distribution
Aplysina aerophoba lives on a solid ground, in depths down to 20m. It is more likely to ne found in areas exposed to direct sunlight.
When diving in the Canaries it is very common. There is hardly a dive where you do not swim past it.
Its distribution area extends from the Mediterranean Sea over close by areas of the Atlantic. It is found on the Spanish and Portuguese coast, around the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Cape Verde and in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Yellow Tube Sponge forms large colonies. Its diet consists of zoo- and phytoplankton.
It produces homogentisic acid to ward off predators. This does not work with the Yellow Umrella Slug. This feeds exclusively on Aplysina aerophoba, stores its poison, and by this also protects itself against predators.
Fertilization takes place in the interior of the Yellow Tube Sponge. The young larvae are discharged through the outflow opening and settle in the early summer to create a new colony.