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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Reef-forming Sponge Heterochone calyx

The reef-forming sponge not only looks like a delicate glass vase, but its skeleton spicules are made from the same material as glass, silica. Each spicule has six rays, hence the Latin name of its class, Hexactinellida. Many glass sponges grow very large—off Canada’s British Columbian coast, the reef-forming sponge forms huge mounds nearly 65 ft (20 m) high spread over several miles. Other members of their class also contribute to these reefs, which may have started forming nearly 9,000 years ago. Like coral reefs, sponge reefs provide a home for many other animals.

Reef-forming Spongezoom image
  • Class Hexactinellida
  • Height Up to 5 ft (1.5 m)
  • Depth 300–800 ft (100–250 m)
  • Habitat Deep hard seabed
  • Distribution Deep cold waters of north Pacific
Reef-forming Sponge habitat mapzoom image