Pictures of sea sponges and various crinoids from my snorkeling trip to Raja Ampat

December 2012 

Raja Ampat is home to a wide variety of sponges, including the giant barrel sponge, one of the simplest multicellular creature on the planet. Obviously there are also many large starfish in different shapes and colors, as well as other echinoderms like the beautiful feather star.

Xestospongia testudinaria
Sea sponge picture from Raja Ampat West Papua. A giant barrel sponge (Xestospongia testudinaria) growing undersea on a cliff.
Snorkeling in Indonesia
Diving in Indonesia
Sea sponge

Sea sponge photos.

Sea sponges are one of the simplest and primitive forms of animal life on the planet, as they do not have complex differentiated organs. The sea water, thanks to the flow generated by the currents, filters through the pores present on the body of the sponge, where the nutrients (mainly plankton) are captured, before being ejected from the top opening called operculum.

In these photos, some organ pipe sponges.

Sea sponges
Other photos of sea sponges, in particular, organ pipe sea sponges.
Blue sponge encrusting a coral
A blue sea sponge growing on a coral.
Barrel sponge Giant barrel sponge
Barrel sponges
Photos of giant sponges in Indonesia (West Papua).

Although these pictures were all taken from Raja Ampat in Indonesia (West Papua), the giant barrel sponge can be found in many other seas, including Red Sea.
Sea sponges
Giant sea sponges
Elephant ear sponge
Picture of an elephant ear sea sponge.
Orange sea sponge

Pictures of other sea sponges characterized by different shapes and colors.
Cinachyra australiensis
Photo of a golf ball sea sponge (Cinachyra australiensis or Paratetilla) so called for its particular shape and texture.
Organ pipe sponge Organ pipe sponge
Organ pipe sea sponge

More photos of sponges, some of them hosting white sea cucumbers (a mollusc) on the external surface.
Liosina granularis Liosina
Sea sponges belonging to genus Liosina (Liosina granularis or Liosina granulosa) found during snorkeling trips in Raja Ampat.
Yellow sponge
On top picture, another elephant ear sponge. On the right picture, a sponge belonging to Lissodendoryx genus. There are really many different sea sponges that can be found during snorkeling trips or dives in Raja Ampat.
Lissodendoryx fibrosa
More sea sponges featured by an elongated shape.
Sea star Cushion sea star

In Raja Ampat, as in most other seas of the world, there are large sea stars including also the pillow sea star shown in the photo to the right.

Sea urchin
A small sea urchin with large white spines, located between rocks and corals.
Comanthina benneti Comanthina bennetti
Feather stars Feather star
Crinoids Crinoid

Feather star photos.

These creatures, actually looking like an algae, belong instead to the animal kingdom and more precisely to the category of crinoids and echinoderms. They are therefore related to sea urchins and sea stars. The genus Comanthina includes several species with different colors and are found in large numbers around Raja Ampat, as the animal is particularly common in the Indo-Pacific regions including West Papua. They feeds by filtering the sea water through the tentacles, which resemble a feather.

More photos showing sea sponges and feather stars living all together.

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