Halichondria panicea

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Halichondria panicea
Halichondria panicea on boulder.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Porifera
Class: Demospongiae
Order: Halichondrida
Family: Halichondriidae
Genus: Halichondria
Species: H. panicea
Binomial name
Halichondria panicea
Pallas, 1766[1]

Halichondria panicea, commonly known as the breadcrumb sponge, is a species of marine demosponge belonging to the family Halichondriidae. This is an abundant sponge of coastal areas of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea ranging from the intertidal zone to a recorded depth of over 550 m. It is very tolerant of a wide range of coastal habitats, including strong currents, high salinity and exposure to powerful wave action. Its only requirement is a rocky substrate which can include small cobbles.


Close-up view.

Halichondria panicea occurs in a very wide range of forms and can be difficult to identify. Some forms have a granular surface which gives rise to the common name but sometimes the surface is smooth, even glassy. The surface is often marked with pores (osculae) which can extend into tubular "chimneys" in wave-sheltered habitats. The overall form is determined largely by the habitat: wave-exposed forms usually form thin widespread sheets but wave-sheltered forms often form massive encrustations up to 20 cm thick. This diversity has led to its being described as a new species 56 times (see below).[2][3]

The colour is also variable. The "natural" colour is cream or grey: this is usually found in specimens from relatively deep water. However at shallower depths, the sponge is usually green due to symbiotic algae which live close to the surface of the sponge. At intermediate depths the sponge tends to be green in summer, cream or grey in winter. It smells like "exploded gunpowder".[3]


Halichondria panicea is a suspension feeder feeding mainly on phytoplankton. For such a common species, relatively little is known about its reproduction: It appears to be a hermaphrodite and oogenesis has been reported as occurring in a very narrow timeband within a single population although exceptions have been observed.

Other names[edit]

When the World Register of Marine Species was created, it was discovered that no less than 56 latin names had been assigned to this species over the years, because of confusion caused by the many different forms it might take.[4][3][2]

  1. Halichondria panicea Pallas, 1766
  2. Halina panicea Pallas, 1766
  3. Spongia panicea Pallas, 1766
  4. Spongia tomentosa Linnaeus, 1767
  5. Spongia cristata Ellis & Solander, 1786
  6. Spongia tubulosa Ellis & Solander, 1786
  7. Spongia urens Ellis & Solander, 1786
  8. Halichondria papillaris Linnaeus, 1791
  9. Alcyonium manusdiaboli sensu Esper, 1794
  10. Spongia compacta Sowerby, 1806
  11. Alcyonium medullare Lamarck, 1815
  12. Halichondria albescens Rafinesque, 1818
  13. Seriatula seriata Grant, 1826
  14. Spongia seriata Grant, 1826
  15. Halichondria sevosa Johnston, 1842
  16. Halichondria reticulata Lieberkühn, 1859
  17. Halichondria coccinea Bowerbank, 1861
  18. Hymeniacidon coccinea Bowerbank, 1861
  19. Halichondria brettii Bowerbank, 1866
  20. Hymeniacidon brettii Bowerbank, 1866
  21. Hymeniacidon fallaciosus Bowerbank, 1866
  22. Halichondria caduca Bowerbank, 1866
  23. Halichondria glabra Bowerbank, 1866
  24. Halichondria incerta Bowerbank, 1866
  25. Halichondria lactea Bowerbank, 1866
  26. Halichondria membrana Bowerbank, 1866
  27. Hymeniacidon fragilis Bowerbank, 1866
  28. Hymeniacidon lactea Bowerbank, 1866
  29. Hymeniacidon membrana Bowerbank, 1866
  30. Hymeniacidon thomasii Bowerbank, 1866
  31. Hymeniacidon parfitti Parfitt, 1868
  32. Hymeniacidon reticulatus Bowerbank, 1866
  33. Pellina bibula Schmidt, 1870
  34. Spuma borealis var. convoluta Miklucho-Maclay, 1870
  35. Spuma borealis var. tuberosa Miklucho-Maclay, 1870
  36. Spuma borealis var. velamentosa Miklucho-Maclay, 1870
  37. Halichondria ambigua Bowerbank, 1874
  38. Halichondria edusa Bowerbank, 1874
  39. Halichondria firmus Bowerbank, 1874
  40. Halichondria pannosus Verrill, 1874
  41. Hymeniacidon firmus Bowerbank, 1874
  42. Hymeniacidon solida Bowerbank, 1874
  43. Hymeniacidon tegeticula Bowerbank, 1874
  44. Amorphina appendiculata Schmidt, 1875
  45. Halichondria paciscens Schmidt, 1875
  46. Amorphina paciscens Schmidt, 1875
  47. Halichondria coralloides Bowerbank, 1882
  48. Isodictya crassa Bowerbank, 1882
  49. Isodictya perplexa Bowerbank, 1882
  50. Microciona tumulosa Bowerbank, 1882
  51. Amorphina grisea Fristedt, 1887
  52. Halichondria grisea Fristedt, 1887
  53. Menanetia minchini Topsent, 1896
  54. Halichondriella corticata Burton, 1931
  55. Trachyopsilla glaberrima Burton, 1931
  56. Halichondria topsenti de Laubenfels, 1936


  1. ^ van Soest, R. (2014). R. W. M. Van Soest, N. Boury-Esnault, J. N. A. Hooper, K. Rützler, N. J. de Voogd, B. Alvarez de Glasby, E. Hajdu, A. B. Pisera, R. Manconi, C. Schoenberg, D. Janussen, K. R. Tabachnick, M. Klautau, B. Picton, M. Kelly & J. Vacelet, eds. "Halichondria panicea (Pallas, 1766)". World Porifera database. World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  2. ^ a b Leahy, Stephen (25 June 2008). "BIODIVERSITY: O Sponge, Your Names Are Many". IPS News. 
  3. ^ a b c "Register clears out 'fishy' names". BBC News. 25 June 2008. 
  4. ^ Cressey, Daniel (27 Jun 2008). "Ocean census reveals the beast with 56 names". News Blog. Nature.