They are multicellular organisms that have bodies full of pores and channels allowing water to circulate through them, consisting of jelly-like mesohyl sandwiched between two thin layers of cells.
Sponges have unspecialized cells that can transform into other types and that often migrate between the main cell layers and the mesohyl in the process.
Sponges do not have nervous, digestive or circulatory systems.
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Sponge biodiversity and morphotypes at the lip of a wall site in 60 feet of water.
Included are the yellow tube sponge, Aplysina fistularis, the purple vase sponge, Niphates digitalis, the red encrusting sponge, Spiratrella coccinea, and the gray rope sponge, Callyspongia sp.
Sponges are similar to other animals in that they are multicellular, heterotrophic, lack cell walls and produce sperm cells.
Unlike other animals, they lack true tissues and organs, and have no body symmetry.
The shapes of their bodies are adapted for maximal efficiency of water flow through the central cavity, where it deposits nutrients, and leaves through a hole called the osculum.
Many sponges have internal skeletons of spongin and/or spicules of calcium carbonate or silicon dioxide. Although there are freshwater species, the great majority are marine (salt water) species, ranging from tidal zones to depths exceeding 8,800 m (5.5 mi).While most of the approximately 5,000–10,000 known species feed on bacteria and other food particles in the water, some host photosynthesizing micro-organisms as endosymbionts and these alliances often produce more food and oxygen than they consume.A few species of sponge that live in food-poor environments have become carnivores that prey mainly on small crustaceans.Most species use sexual reproduction, releasing sperm cells into the water to fertilize ova that in some species are released and in others are retained by the "mother".The fertilized eggs form larvae which swim off in search of places to settle.Sponges are known for regenerating from fragments that are broken off, although this only works if the fragments include the right types of cells. When conditions deteriorate, for example as temperatures drop, many freshwater species and a few marine ones produce gemmules, "survival pods" of unspecialized cells that remain dormant until conditions improve and then either form completely new sponges or recolonize the skeletons of their parents.