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Phylum Porifera
Golf ball sponge
Cinachyrella australiensis*
Family Tetillidae

updated Oct 2016

Where seen? This furry ball-shaped sponge is sometimes seen on coral rubble on some of our shores. Sometimes with shallow circular depressions, it then resembles a golf ball. It is one of the most common and abundant sponges on intertidal and shallow reefs. Elsewhere, they thrive in silty areas.

Sometimes, similar sponges are found washed ashore. These are usually smooth without spines and usually smell bad. Are they dead or dying golf ball sponges?

6-8cm in diameter, spherical densely covered with short, fine spines. These are needle-shaped spicules that stick out of the surface. Don't touch the sponge as the spicules may pierce your skin and remain embedded causing great discomfort. There may be circular pits or indentations on the surface that are bare of spines. These are specialised pore-bearing pits called porocalices. These regularly spaced pits do make them resemble golf balls! Sometimes, broken ones are also seen, showing the yellow internal radiating skeletons. Young ones lack the pits on the surface and often resemble furry balls. Colour usually yellow, although sediment accumulated on the spines may hide the colour.

Looks similar to the Rambutan sponge which has fewer fine spines sometimes with bulbous tips and anchored to the surface with stringy tissues. Golf ball sponges lack these bulbous tips and stringy anchors.

Pulau Hantu, Jan 12

Regular circular indentations makes
it resemble a golf ball.
Pulau Hantu, Apr 09

Possibly a dead golfball sponge?
Chek Jawa, Jan 07

Pulau Semakau, Aug 07

Broken ones reveal the yellow
radiating internal skeleton.

Changi, Sep 10

Pulau Ubin, Dec 12

Tiny blobs at the filament tips:
buds that fall off to become new sponges?

*Sponge species are difficult to positively identify without close examination.
On this website, they are grouped by external features for convenience of display.

Golf ball sponges on Singapore shores

Photos of Golf ball sponges for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map

Terumbu Berkas, Jan 10

Pulau Biola, Dec 09

Pulau Pawai, Dec 09
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on his flickr.

Terumbu Berkas, Jan 10

Terumbu Salu, Jan 10

Terumbu Salu, Jan 10

Pulau Salu, Jun 10

Pulau Berkas, May 10

Pulau Salu, Jun 10



  • Lim Swee Cheng, Nicole de Voogd and Tan Koh Siang. 2008. A Guide to Sponges of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 173pp.
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