Marine Life Society of South Australia Inc.


May 2007   No. 343

understanding, enjoying & caring for our oceans”

Next Meeting


This will be the 2007 Annual General Meeting and will be held at the Star of the Sea Marine Discovery Centre at Henley Beach. Please enter via the gate on Marlborough Street. If you get lost then please phone me on 0407395566 for directions.

The AGM will commence at 8.00pm with the main business. (As the 5 Committee positions have been fully nominated there is no need to stay away to avoid being elected!) Our Patron, Scoresby Shepherd AO will address the meeting. This will be followed by brief addresses by our main calendar sponsors.

Following this there will be a break and MLSSA members are asked to bring a plate of food and some wine to share.

The Director of the Centre (and MLSSA member) Tim Hoile will then conduct a tour of the facilities.

We hope to have a large turnout for this meeting as our sponsors will be there.


A map of how to find the Marine Centre is on page 3. Please use the Marlborough Street entrance. If you have any problems in locating the Centre then phone me on my mobile on 0407395566.




Map of the MDC

Committee nominations

Annual Reports

Sponges Of The Genus Ciocalypta (Steve Reynolds)



Nominations for the 2007-8 Committee


POSITION          NAME                 NOMINATED BY

President                       Philip Hall                     Self

Secretary                       Neville Skinner              Self

Treasurer                      Phill McPeake                Self

Committee                    David Muirhead            Self

Committee                    Chris Hall                      Self


There being only the required number of nominations then the Secretary will declare all positions filled at the meeting.


Nominations for the following non-executive positions will then be taken in the following order:


Conservation Council Representatives (2)



Photo Index Officer

Reefwatch Representative

Scientific Officer

SDF Representatives (2)

Social Officer

Web Master

President’s Annual Report – Philip Hall


2007/7 has been another good year for MLSSA. This could be a repeat of last years report in fact.

I have been able to give several talks to Service and other community groups. They have been individualized for each talk by judicious use of the Photo Index, calendar pictures and possible Beachwash Guide pictures. The Digital Projector has performed well and has been invaluable for use by speakers at our own meetings.

Unfortunately attendance at our own meetings has been the only downside to the year. Generally only a regular few turn up in spite of having mostly excellent speakers on interesting topics.

Another sad note is the closure of the Victor Harbor Whale Centre, albeit temporarily, for repair and refurbishment. I mention this because the CD prepared by Phill McPeake for their use has been returned to us for safe keeping.

The startup of the BankSA account was completed due to the excellent work by the Treasurer. We are temporarily keeping the Central Credit Union account alive in case this new account system does not work to our benefit in the long-term.

The 2007 calendar has been a great success apart for not selling all 1500 printed copies. We have made an increased profit but the waste of unsold calendars has resulted in us probably ordering only 1200 of the 2008 calendar. We will retain the unsold 2007 copies and decide on their fate next year. The 2008 calendar is well under way due mainly to the effort put in by Phill McPeake. Our regular printer, Printnow, has closed so one of their former executives who has gone into private consultation work has organised a very good deal for our next calendar.

During the year many requests have been received for the use of our Photo Index pictures. These have been for book illustrations, charts, boating magazines and DEH usage to name but a few. Most have been on a free of charge basis but a few have resulted in an increase in MLSSA funds.

Several other requests for help have been received and these have either been answered directly or they have been referred to the appropriate organisation.

The website has been updated by me as to Newsletters, Journal and meeting details on a regular basis. Danny has made a substantial update to the Photo Index during the year. Some other changes and corrections are in the pipeline.

The aforementioned Journal was the biggest we have produced and has many very interesting articles. Thank you to all of our contributors.

A big thank you too must go to the CCSA staff for allowing us to use their premises for meetings and as a post box. We hope the new site will be as convenient.


Secretary’s Report - Neville Skinner


Another year has passed so quickly.

This year has also been busy for me and one that has had more than it’s share of .inconvenience, with close to 3 months of not being able to walk or drive, following a broken ankle.

A big thanks to those members that helped me to get to meetings.

And thanks also to Margaret for standing in for me at several meetings to take the minutes!


Thanks also to Phillip, David & Chris for being an integral part of your Committee, and for being great team members.

And thanks to Steve for helping out with the SDF reports.


Treasurer’s Report - Phill McPeake


The audited accounts and the report will be presented at the AGM.


Committee Member’s Report - David Muirhead


Blown Away!


I briefly considered entitling this committee member’s report ‘Syngnathids versus Syringes’ in deference to the ongoing dilemma in my headspace about the balance between work and leisure which continues to possess my narcissistic soul.

 Realising in the nick of time the monothematic predictability of this theme of mine to the long-suffering MLSSA readership, I’ve changed tack, and anticipate your dumbstruck fascination as you, by reading on, learn my intended nuance of that common phrase ‘blown away’.

 ‘To be seen as green while economically unmoving (?  un- mean?)’

 Can even one as self deprecatory as I believe in this mantra?

 When it should be long dead in 2007 the impossible political dream looms larger ever.

 Lifted, seemingly, on the urgent wings of cataclysmic climate change .

 And, perversely, this despite our logical brains agreeing with our intuitive brains to the effect that the impossible dream should, finally and forever, be blown away by this very same climatic catastrophic change event.

 Somehow indeed: as untrammeled, ephemeral and unfathomable as late summer’s shallow tidal pool, some things remain to haunt us...

 In the meantime, another good year of diving (never enough of course)  has produced ever more friends (remember the boat?!) and ever lesser quality images.

 Cannot but mention that dreamtime diving in the Investigator Group in late autumn 06-what a buzz that was!

 And so, what I’ll do is  dream on regardless as  the world keeps on burning....


Committee Member’s Report - Chris Hall


This passed year has been a very quiet year for me both with diving & photography.

I was very pleased to have some of my  photographs in the 2007 calendar. I think that this year’s calendar has been an excellent team effort and was very proud to send it to friends throughout Australia & overseas.  Thanks to all those involved in doing such a professional job. Keep up the good work.

Although I have not been as involved in the monitoring of Hallett Cove Reef as much as I would like, I applaud MLSSA for getting involved & the work Kevin Smith has done so far. It would be interesting to know how much the reef has deteriorated since colonisation but I guess we’ll never know.

I’d like to thank the committee for all its hard work & Margaret who ably assists our President. Without Philip’s tireless work for MLSSA I think the organisation would just about fold.

Also a special thanks to Neville & Philip for procuring such good & informative speakers for our general meetings.

I’ll be standing for committee again & thank all members of MLSSA for their support & making it such a worthwhile organisation.


Editor’s Annual Report – Philip Hall


The Newsletter has continued to be published on a monthly basis (apart from December) and has continued to be sent to members requesting it as a PDF file. This enables full colour pictures to be received and avoids the need to download it from the website.

As usual, articles have been received on a “just in time” basis. Thank you to Steve Reynolds for his constant supply of articles that I can keep at hand.


Library Officer’s Annual Report - Steve Reynolds


The library’s contents continue to increase steadily and it continues to be useful for fulfilling enquiries from the general public.  It comprises of books, magazines, reports, newsletters, journals, CDs, DVDs and videos. The library is also a great resource for the Photo Index. The main purpose of the library, however, is to provide a resource for our members. Use of the library by members is virtually non-existent though. If I am re-appointed to the position, let me know if you would like to borrow an item from the library and I will take it to our next meeting for you.


Photo Index Officer’s Annual Report - Steve Reynolds


The Photo Index has grown beyond my wildest dreams, especially when it comes to the number of new digital images being added to the collection. I said last year that the Index provides images for our calendars but the very opposite is closer to the truth now – the calendar provides images for the Index. The Index continues to provide images for our publications and also fulfills enquiries from government agencies and the general public.


Assistant SDF Rep’s Report - Steve Reynolds


I have continued to represent our Society at SDF meetings over the past twelve months. I am still the Secretary of the SDF and hope to continue in the position as it enables me to pass much information from the SDF on to our members. The next AGM of the SDF will be held in July. Let me know of any issues that you feel the SDF should take up on your behalf.

Sponges Of The Genus Ciocalypta

by Steve Reynolds


I have long been intrigued by a species of Porifera (sponges) which displays little finger-like projections from below sand. There seemed to be two different kinds of this creature to me and I was never sure what they were. They could possibly have been anemones or ascidians. Over the years, however, I have been led to understand that they are a species of sponge.

We have two slides of the species in our Photo Index – slide numbers 2512 & 2516. Slide number 2512 shows the sponge’s finger-like projections as having pointed tips whereas slide number 2516 shows them as having blunt tips. These two slides were both taken by David Muirhead.


Slide No. 2512 showing the sponge’s finger-like projections as having pointed tips (taken by David Muirhead).


Slide No. 2516 showing the sponge’s finger-like projections as having blunt tips (taken by David Muirhead).


The recorded details for both of the slides are as follows: -










Ciocalypta Sp.


The only reference that I could find that gave the above details was the book “Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia - Part 1”, edited by SA Shepherd & IM Thomas. Plate 1.4 in the book showed a slide of the sponge taken by P. Bergquist. A description of the species is given on page 58 of the book.

The book says that the sponge belongs to the Order Halichondrida. It goes on to say that it belongs to the Class Demospongiae. These are usually sponges with siliceous spicules and/or a fibrous skeleton (as explained on page 43). It also says that sponges of the Class Halichondrida are demospongiae in which microscleres are absent. Microsclere are said to be “a packing or reinforcing spicule, usually of a small size, frequently of ornate shape”. So sponges of the Class Halichondrida do not have these microsclere. They apparently have megascleres (instead?). These are said to be “a structural spicule”. The megascleres in sponges of the Class Halichondrida “are oxeas, styles or strongyles in many combinations”.

Oxeas are said to be “a diactinal megasclere (structural spicule) in which both ends are evenly tapered to points” (as in Fig 3.3a in the book – Representative megasclere (structural spicule) types of the Demospongiae).

Styles are said to be “a monoactinal megasclere (structural spicule) in which one end is evenly rounded and the other end is pointed” (as in Fig 3.3b).

Strongyle is said to be “a diactinal spicule in which both ends are rounded (as in Fig 3.3c).

“Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia - Part 1” goes on to say that “The deeper parts of the spicule skeleton show no organization into fibre or spicule tracts. This dis-ordered skeleton is termed ‘halichondroid’. The superficial skeleton can be ordered into a tangential dermal skeleton and ectosomal spicule brushes (Fig.3.10).” Ectosome is said to be “ a superficial region of the sponge not supported by any special spicule or collagen skeleton”.

“Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia” says that the sponge also belongs to the Family Halichondriidae. It says that the principal megascleres (structural spicules) of sponges of this family “are oxeas rarely with accessory styles. A marked system of subdermal cavities sets the ordered tangential dermal skeleton off from the confused endosomal skeleton.” Endosome are said to be “all except the ectosomal structures of a sponge”.

The book lists two genera from the Family HalichondriidaeHalichondria and Ciocalypta. Sponges of the Genus Ciocalypta are said to have a “dense dermal skeleton” and a “marked ectosomal skeleton”. They are said to be a “Sponge with massive base and digitate oscular projections or stalked, lamellate shape”. Oscules are said to be ‘the exhalent openings of a sponge”. Ciocalypta species are said to be “Frequently found on sandy bottom”.

The “Reader’s Digest Book of the Great Barrier Reef” features a photo of a similar creature on page 158. It describes the creature as being a “yellow burrowing sponge” along with these comments: -

“Some sponges rely totally on chimneys for feeding while the bulk of the body is buried deep in the coral rock (sand?). Fine pores and canals at the base of the chimney convey water down to the sponge and the outcurrent water passes out through the top of the chimney.”

A caption for the photo of a different sponge on the same page gave similar details

i.e. “Some sponges use chimney-like structures to increase the flow of water through the canals. The canals that expel the water are raised up into the currents and act like a chimney to draw water in through many small pores, lower down the body.”

An explanation about these chimney-like structures starts on page 157 under the heading “Sponge Chimneys”. It says that many sponges have learnt to use the prevailing currents to drive water through the canals. They erect chimney-like structures into the water where the stronger currents are. The water passing over the chimneys creates an updraft causing the water to flow into the ostia (inhalent openings).

The next time that I read any details about these sponges was in the December 2005/January 2006 issue of Sportdiving magazine (Issue 113). It was on the pages of “Indo-Pacific Identity Crisis” by Neville Coleman (page 35). David and Leanne Atkinson had sent two photos in to Neville seeking identification of the creature(s). David and Leanne thought that they might have been ascidians. One of the photos showed the creature having pointer tips which tended to lay down more. The other photo showed a creature with blunt tips. Both photos were taken at Port Stephens, NSW at a depth of 8m. Neville was only aware of the fact that the two different photos depicted the same creature which he recognized as a sponge. Although he was unable to identify the species he gave it the common name of Sprouting Sand Sponge. The two photos and all of the relevant details can be seen at: .

A recent search of the Internet came up with a short report titled “P-230: Two Chemomorphs Of The Tropical Marine Sponge Ciocalypta Sp.” by Ryan Centko, Alan Maschek and Bill Baker (University of South Florida, Department of Chemistry, 4202 E Fowler Ave. CHE 205, Tampa, FL 33620) at: . According to the report, the sponge Ciocalypta sp. played a key role in the development of the field of marine chemical ecology, being the first animal shown to produce a chemical defence toward another marine organism and due to its unique natural product chemistry. It seems that this sponge produces a number of defensive metabolites* belonging to the unusual family of “isocyano-functionalized sesquiterpenes”.

*(A metabolite is said to be a “Substance which takes part in a process of metabolism”. Most metabolites are said to be “made by the organism in the course of metabolism”. There are, however, exceptions. If the creature is unable to make them itself, it must take them in from the environment. In other cases, the creature may make part of the supply of a particular metabolite itself and also take part of it in from the environment.

Source: “A Dictionary of Biology” by Abercrombie, Hickman & Johnson (Penguin Reference Books).)

According to the report, two carbon skeletons have been found in the sponge, including the “isocyanopupukeanane and α-amorphene scaffolds”. Analysis of several Ciocalypta specimens revealed that an individual sponge produces only one of the two scaffolds as major products. The report concluded by saying “Thus we have identified an isocyanopupukeanane chemomorph and an α-amorphene chemomorph.”

A diagram of both an isocyanopupukeanane chemomorph and an Isothiocyanato-4-amorphene (α-amorphene chemomorph) features on the web page ( ).

A further search of the Internet led to a large report titled “ ‘Sponguide. Guide To Sponge Collection And Identification (Version August 2000)” by John N.A. Hooper of the Queensland Museum. I found it at: .

Another version can apparently be found at: .

On page 69 of the ‘Sponguide’ I found these details about the Family Halichondriidae and Ciocalypta species: -


SYNONYMS: Spongosoritidae Topsent; ? Petromicidae Topsent; Hymeniacidonidae de Laubenfels.

DEFINITION: Encrusting to massive growth forms, sometimes with specialised fistules on the upper surface; principle megascleres (structural spicules) are oxeas*, sometimes with accessory styles**; choanosomal skeleton consists of a high density of spicules arranged in vague, poorly defined, directionless tracts ("halichondroid" structure), or spicules in complete confusion; there is often marked subectosomal*** or vestibular cavities; microscleres (packing or reinforcing spicules) usually absent, occasionally raphides****.

SCOPE: 53 nominal genera are included in the family, of which only 16 appear to be valid.

REVIEWS: Bergquist (1970); van Soest et al. (1990), Diaz et al. (1991, 1992), Hooper et al. (1997).”

*(Remember that oxeas are said to be “a diactinal megasclere (structural spicule) in which both ends are evenly tapered to points”.)

**(Remember that styles are said to be “a monoactinal megasclere (structural spicule) in which one end is evenly rounded and the other end is pointed”.)

***(An ectosome is a superficial region of the sponge not supported by any special spicule or collagen skeleton.)

**** (A raphide is a thin oxeote microsclere (packing or reinforcing spicule).)

Ciocalypta Bowerbank, 1863 (type species: Ciocalypta penicillus Bowerbank, 1863) (syn. Apatospongia Marshall, 1892; Leucophloeus Carter, 1883; Uritiaia Burton, 1932) - with pointed, blind fistules; fistules characteristically semi-transparent parchment-like; with distinct ectosomal* tangential reticulation of spicule tracts, occurring as bundles or single spicules; with ectosomal styles together with predominantly stylote choanosomal megascleres (from van Soest et al. 1990).”

*(Remember that ectosome is said to be “ a superficial region of the sponge not supported by any special spicule or collagen skeleton”.)



“P-230: Two Chemomorphs Of The Tropical Marine Sponge Ciocalypta Sp.” by Ryan Centko, Alan Maschek and Bill Baker (University of South Florida, Department of Chemistry, 4202 E Fowler Ave. CHE 205, Tampa, FL 33620) at .

“Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia – Part I”, edited by SA Shepherd & IM Thomas, Government Printer, South Australia, 1982 (Chapter 3 (the Porifera section) by PR Bergquist & IG Skinner) – mlssa 1021.

Reader’s Digest Book of the Great Barrier Reef”, Reader’s Digest Services, Sydney, 1984, ISBN 0 949819 41 7.

December 2005/January 2006 issue of Sportdiving magazine (Issue 113) - “Indo-Pacific Identity Crisis” by Neville Coleman, .

“A Dictionary of Biology” by Abercrombie, Hickman & Johnson, Penguin Reference Books, 1970.

“ ‘Sponguide. Guide To Sponge Collection And Identification (Version August 2000)” by John N.A. Hooper of the Queensland Museum, either or .

Reader’s Digest Book of the Great Barrier Reef”, Reader’s Digest Services, Sydney, 1984, ISBN 0 949819 41 7.



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