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Iophon nigricans

(Bowerbank, 1858)

Chris Wood Diving Mussel Beds Horse mussel (Modiolus modiolus) and Blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) beds on sediment are both priority habitats and thus target areas for Seasearch diving. Recent Seasearch dives have targeted both types. In the Isle of Man Seasearch has dived a horse mussel bed off the eastern side of the island, which is currently unprotected but thankfully remains in excellent condition. In addition to a dense covering of horse mussels, the bed also has a variety of branching sponges, especially the yellow Iophon nigricans, hydroids and mobile animals such as hermit crabs, painted topshells, urchins, starfish and young fishes. The picture shows some of the variety of life that the horse mussel bed supports. Blue mussel beds can be quite transient, and a recent Seasearch dive with Sussex Divers on the coastal chalk platform off Rottingdean found the seabed and attached plants covered in a carpet of tiny mussels. Whether they will remain in the long term is questionable, but the starfish population was already responding to the new food source with large numbers of young animals, each only about a centimetre across. A similar mussel fall was also reported from Shoreham, a few miles further west, on Seasearch dives with Brigthon BSAC. In North Norfolk a blue mussel bed has been proposed as a Reference Area (no take zone). It is a tiny area only about 500m square and a couple of kilometres offshore and we covered all of it and more in our dive as there was a current of about 2kts running which made recording callenging. The bed was patchy, with sandy areas between the clumps of mussels, but they were also providing a habitat for dahlia anemones, common starfish, sunstars, crabs and the finger bryozoan.

Message posted on Seasearch on 10 Aug 2012
George Brown This brachiopod, Terebratulina retusa, about 10mm across, is covered in sponge. Is there a species of sponge linked to T. retusa in this way? Ardnoe Point, Sound of Jura, about 20m. Many thanks.

Andrew Want Excellent! - Terbratulina is very important in Palaeontology...

George Brown Can I bring this back up to the top in the hope that someone can suggest a name for the sponge on this brachiopod? Please?

Sarah Bowen It looks a bit like Hymedesmia coriaceum, which Jennifer Jones recently ID'd for me on a kelp stipe in Pembrokeshire. Possibility?

Bernard Picton With that big exhalant canal it could be Spanioplon armaturum.

Bernard Picton We often get Iophon nigricans on brachiopods off the west coast of Ireland. It is a nice bright yellow. I suspect that the sponges prefer a calcareous substratum and perhaps they also benefit from the feeding current of the brachiopods.

Claire Goodwin That's interesting Sarah Bowen - I thought it could be Hymedesmia brondstedi/coriacea (there is another taxonomic mix-up with these) but as Bernard says it is also Spanioplon like in appearance.

George Brown Many thanks everyone! I see what you mean and again, no straightforward identification. Can I please send you guys a sample?

Message posted on NE Atlantic Porifera on 15 May 2013
Animalia (Kingdom)
  Porifera (Phylum)
    Demospongiae (Class)
      Poecilosclerida (Order)
        Microcionina (Suborder)
          Acarnidae (Family)
            Iophon (Genus)
              Iophon nigricans (Species)
Associated Species