Cloud Sponge

Scientific Name:
Aphrocallistes vastus

Ancient and fragile, vast Glass Sponge reefs are one of ocean’s most extraordinary living treasures. The Cloud Sponge is an integral part of these reefs, which are composed of sponges with skeletons made entirely from silica, the basic component of glass. Once believed to be extinct, extensive Glass Sponge reefs can be found today only in BC waters.

Among the many species of Glass Sponge, only three are reef builders – the Cloud Sponge (Aphrocallistes vastus), the Chalice Sponge (Heterochone calyx) and Farrea occa. These species have fused skeletons that persist long after death, providing the framework for extensive reefs, which serve as home to a diverse community of other marine invertebrates and fishes.

Glass Sponge reefs are extremely fragile and very vulnerable to damage. Because of their slow growth, broken reefs may take up to 200 years to recover.