Often mistaken for plants, sponges are commonly found by beachcombers because their skeletons are strong enough to survive the waves that wash them ashore. These sponges have lost their bright colours but generally retain the shape they had when alive. Sponges have no mouth, internal organs or nerves. Instead, their body is full of tiny holes, which help them to eat and breathe by filtering seawater.

Sponge on beach Sponge on beach Sponge on beach

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Spicules are microscopic structures that provide a support or skeleton for the animal. These hard spicules are made of either calcium carbonate (limestone) or glassy silica, and vary in size and shape.

Sponge underwater Purple sponge on reef