Report | September 24, 2018

Sponge grounds of Artemisina (Porifera, Demospongiae) in the Iberian Peninsula, ecological characterization by ROV techniques

Artemisina Vosmaer, 1885 is a poecilosclerid microcionoid sponge genus with 20 valid species, seven of which have been recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

The present study describes Artemisina sponge grounds in Iberia Peninsula. A. transiens is a sponge described in 1890 by Topsent in Galicia (Spain); A. hispanica was also collected in the north of Spain by Ferrer-Hernández (1917); World Porifera Database (WPD) considers at the moment both mushroom-shaped species as synonyms (van Soest et al., 2018), but we have only been able to check the types of A. hispanica.

The studied samples were collected in Somos Llungo station and they correspond clearly to those described as A. hispanica by Ferrer-Hernández (1917) and it presents differences in the skeleton with respet to description of A. transiens in the literture. There are no more records after 1917 and there are no data of ecological characterisation nor is there a detailed description of its skeletal composition with Scanning Electron Microscopy. In the previous records the formation of sponge grounds of these species was not known.

Oceana, the largest international organization focused solely on protecting the world’s oceans, has recorded the habitat of Artemisina in Atlantic and Cantabrian waters during a series of ROV cruises for the identification of marine areas with high ecological value that need protection. Its life conditions and associated fauna are described from direct observations for the first time.

This work is a result of an Oceana expedition in the Bay of Biscay in 2008.