Description of Cushion sponges and hydroids on turbid tide-swept variable salinity sheltered circalittoral rock
This sub-biotope typically occurs in turbid, variable salinity water, on wave-sheltered bedrock in estuaries subject to strong tidal regimes where circalittoral communities occur in relatively shallow water (typically 5m to 8m water depth). Cushion sponges, hydroids and ascidians dominate the biotope. Large growths (often up to 50cm across) of the sponges Halichondria panicea mixed with Halichondria bowerbanki almost entirely cover the bedrock, appearing in places like a continuous cushion. Haliclona oculata, Suberites ficus, Leucosolenia botryoides, various hydroids such as Plumularia setacea, Nemertesia antennina, Nemertesia ramosa and various bryozoans such as Bugula plumosa, Bugula turbinata and Bowerbankia pustulosa protude through the Halichondria spp. sponge growth. Colonial ascidians such as the lightbulb ascidian Clavelina lepadiformis and Morchellium argus may also be observed. Other more ubiquitous species include Balanus crenatus, Carcinus maenas, Asterias rubens, Metridium senile, Sagartia elegans and Ophiothrix fragilis.