Top 10 Sea Sponges for Home, Bath, Makeup & Hygiene
Wool Sponge –
Hippospongia lachne de Laubenfels, 1936
Bahamas, FL, Caribbean
Sheepswool sponges are a product of the western Atlantic. They exhibit wide local variation, are very sensitive to environment, and when transplanted undergo significant changes in character. The oscula are large, few in number, and confined to the upper surface. The living sponge has a black color, becoming brownish at the base. Sheepswool sponges grow to over 18 inches in diameter and are unexcelled in softness, absorbency, and durability. They are employed for general bath purposes and for cleaning cars and other highly polished surfaces where size, softness, absorbency, and durability are required. Sheepswool sponges are known under the following market varieties: Florida Rock Island, Florida Key Wool, Bahama Wool, Cuba Wool, Mexican Wool, and Honduras Wool.
The Florida Rock Island is the most valuable sponge of North America. It is found on the west coast of Florida between Johns Pass and St. Marks. It has a grayish brown color and the specimens found in deep water are superior to shallow water specimens in texture, density, and durability. The Florida Key Wool comes from the Key Grounds of Florida and is next in value to the Rock Island, which it surpasses softness but does not equal in strength, durability, and capacity for holding water. The Key Wool sponge have a pale color and consists of rather weak fibers. The Bahamas Wool is inferior to the two varieties mentioned previously. The best kinds are obtained from the vicinity of Abaco and Andros Island. The Cuba Wool has the same characteristics as the Bahama specimens although it is less desirable than the Bahama. The Mexican Wool grows in shallow water and is the poorest of the Sheepswool sponges. It lacks softness, resiliency, and durability. It grows from a narrow base with a rather high shape and has large oscula on the upper surface. The Honduras Wool resembles the Mexican Wool variety, but it is of better quality and is found on the coast of British Honduras.
Spongia barbara dura
Spongia barbara Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1864
Spongia anclotea – yellow sponge decorative
There are various kinds of Yellow sponges known in commerce. These sponges are more elastic than other western hemisphere sponges with the exception of Sheepswool sponges. They are regular in shape, attractive in appearance, and grow to a diameter of about l8 Inches. When alive they have a smooth surface and are very dark brown on top, becoming yellowish on the sides. The oscula are situated on the top of rounded cones or in the upper surface of the sponge. Yellow sponges are less durable than the Sheepswool or Velvet sponges, but they are attractive and Inexpensive bath sponges and are vised for many other purposes. The commercial varieties of Yellow sponges are as follows: Florida Key Yellow, Anclote Yellow, Bahama Yellow, Cuba Yellow, Honduras Yellow, and Mediterranean Yellow.
The Florida Key Yellow is the best kind of Yellow sponge and comes from the vicinity of Matecumba Keys. Oscula are confined to the upper surface. The Anclote Yellow is harsher and less elastic than the Florida Key Yellow and, consequently, less valuable for commerce. Unlike the Florida Key Yellow, the oscula are not confined to the upper surface but occur all through the sponge. The Bahama Yellows are light brown sponges with oscula scattered over the top surface and sometimes on the sides. This variety of Yellow sponge is common near Andros Island. The Cuba Yellow sponge is similar to the Anclote Yellow however, it differs in its brighter color, more cavernous structure, and greater number of oscula. The Honduras Yellow comes from the British Honduras and is harsher than the Florida Key Yellow but less harsh than either the Bahama or Cuba Yellow.
Spongia officinalis adriatica, fino or matapas as it is called in Greek, of Fina Silk as it is commonly known, is considered to be the best and the most expensive type of sponge with a very high diversity. It is compact, elastic and flexible. Its most characteristic feature is its texture, which is very delicate and makes it feel like silk. These sponges are mainly located in the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic, the marine area of Crete, the Dodecanese, Samos and Euboea at a depth of 100 meters.
Spongia Graminea – Key West Grass Sponge
Grass sponges are found commercially in Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico, and British Honduras. They exhibit great diversity of shape and texture but are Inferior in quality, lacking in durability, usually harsh to the touch, or, if soft, exceedingly tender. Grass sponges are known under the following grades in the market: Anclote Grass, Key Grass, Bahama Grass, and Cuba Grass.
The Anclote Grass is the choicest of the Grass sponges. It is shaped like a vase with Inverted truncated cones deeply hollowed on the upper surface. The attached base is one-third to one-half narrower than the upper rim; the sides are almost straight or slightly convex, and the Interior is hollowed out almost to the base. There are no oscula on the outer surface. The vails are thin at the rim of the vase and thicker toward the base. The skeletons are of a dirty brown color, harsh to the touch, and highly elastic. These sponges are used by manufacturers for cleaning purposes in machine shops since they are especially useful where there Is a great deal of oil, as greasy natter Is more easily washed out of them than any other sponge. For this reason and because of their stiff surfaces they are also useful for washing pots and pans in the kitchen. Almost all current production, however, Is sold to curio shops along the sponge docks In Tarpon Springs. The Anclote Grass is found distributed over the entire Bay Grounds. The Key Grass Is more diverse in appearance, softer, more elastic, and less durable than the Anclote Grass. The Bahama Grass Is round or cake-shaped with numerous circular oscula located on the upper surface. The Cuba Grass Is the least desirable variety of Grass sponge because of its extremely weak fiber texture.
Spongia Graminea ss tampa – Vase Sponge
Elephant Ear Sponge
This species has a very interesting appearance, the sides being fluted with irregular, vertical paralleled ridges between which lie one or two rows of round holes from one-sixteenth to three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter. The base is almost as broad as the body of the sponge. Glove sponges are found in the Key and Bay grounds of Florida and in the Bahamas. The best ones come from Biscayne Bay which is part of the Key Grounds, while those from the Bay Grounds are very poor and are rarely brought in by the spongers, who call them "bread sponges" because of their excessive tenderness. Glove sponges are very soft and elastic, but due to the weakness of their fibers they are almost worthless for commerce.
Hippiospongia kerion (proposed) or Hippospongia communis
Among the Greek divers it is known as kapadiko. Hippospongia communis or simply honeycomb is the most popular sponge type. It originates from the Mediterranean Sea (mainly the Aegean Sea and the North Coast of Africa). It is almost spherical and thick and is usually dark brown. Its bottom surface, which adheres to the substrate, is rough. These sponges occur at depths between 9 and 80 meters. Honeycomb harvesting grounds are mainly located in the marine area of Crete, the Cyclades, Euboea and the Dodecanese. It is the king of sponges.
These sponges are found In the Bahamas, Cuba, and British Honduras. Those found In British Honduras are Inferior to the rest. The few Reef sponges taken from the Key Grounds in Florida are not marketed as a separate species but are included with the Yellow sponges. Because of their limited durability these sponges bring a low price.
Wire Sponge (not wire vase sponge)
Want to learn more…Diving Deeper into Commercial Sea Sponges