Yikes! Sponge disease on our reefs!
I have been noticing more and more barrel sponges with large yellow splotches, particularly on Breakers. The disease is so aggressive that some sponges completely disintegrate.
The FWC and Reef Rescue are looking into this issue; however the source of the disease is still unknown.
As filter-feeders, barrel sponges draw in sea water with their flagella to obtain food, nutrients, and oxygen. Any contaminants in the water will also go into the fibers of the sponge. It is possible that the source is upcurrent and could possibly be a result of the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf…but this only speculation from the FWC.
If you see these discolored or disintegrated barrel sponges off Palm Beach please contact Reef Rescue: 561.699.8559