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Hancock, 1849

Species Overview

Cliona lobata Hancock (1849) is a yellow excavating sponge boring exclusively in shells. It differs from C. celata which may occur in the same shells in the much smaller and more numerous papillae and the thinner galleries. In contrast to C. celata it has always microscleres (microscopic examination necessary). Pione vastifica is similar in papillae size but differs in being orange-red. C. lobata occurs sympatrically with C. celata over much of its range, although it is more common in northern waters. It is less frequently reported than C. celata.

Taxonomic Description

Colour: Papillae pale yellow, interiorly golden yellow.
Shape, size, surface and consistency: Excavating sponge making thin branching galleries in mollusc shells, notably Mytilus, Ostrea, Buccinum, Cardium and Mactra. Papillae small and numerous. Inhalant papillae 0.2-0.5 mm in diameter, exhalant papillae up to 1.6 mm in diameter. Galleries are less than 1.5 mm in diameter. Consistency soft.
Spicules: (Cliona lobata spics) Tylostyles and spirasters. Megascleres: Tylostyles slightly fusiform with a sharp point: 155-400 x 1-4 µm.
Microscleres: Spirasters, variable in length, with 1-9 curves: 10-65 x 2-4.5 µm.
Skeleton: Of the papillae, a palisade of tylostyles with an often dense spread of spirasters; of the galleries, loosely strewn tylostyles and microscleres.
Reproduction: Oocytes have been observed in September.
Ecology: Apparently confined to mollusc shells and calcareous algae, not known from dead limestone rocks. It is definitely less destructive than C. celata. Depth range is 0-1300 m.
Distribution: Scandinavia, British Isles, North Sea, west coasts of France; Western Mediterranean.
Type specimen information: The only remains left of the type are 4 slides in the Hancock Museum at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, reg.nrs 4.16.01-04, from Guernsey, Channel Islands (Rützler and Stone, 1986).


This is an easily recognizable species with papillae much smaller and more densely crowded than those of Cliona celata. From C. caledoniae and Pione vastifica it differs on sight by the pale yellow colour of the papillae (against the orange-red ones of vastifica). The former species has thick short spirasters only, while the latter species has spined microxeas among its spicules (mircoscopic examination necessary).
Source: Topsent, 1888a.

Cliona lobata