Sea sponges (poriferans) have a pelagobenthic life cycle that includes a microscopic larval stage that can be collected year round from the waters surrounding Heron Island Reef. Sponge larvae settle and metamorphose into benthic, filter-feeding juveniles, which grow into macroscopic adults. Adults can be easily found in a range of habitats including inner and outer reef zones, the seaward platform, reef slope and the deeper inter-reefal zone. Sometimes they are obvious and easy to spot while reef walking or snorkelling, but often they are hidden underneath or inside dead coral and other substrata.
reef zones of the southwest end of Heron Island Reef
(Image provided by Digital Globe Inc and Biophysical Remote Sensing Group, The University of Queensland)