Haliclona (Haliclona) clairae, Sim-Smith & Hickman & Kelly, 2021

Sim-Smith, Carina, Hickman, Cleveland & Kelly, Michelle, 2021, New shallow-water sponges (Porifera) from the Galápagos Islands, Zootaxa 5012 (1), pp. 1-71 : 13-14

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Haliclona (Haliclona) clairae

sp. nov.

Haliclona (Haliclona) clairae sp. nov.

( Fig. 6 View FIGURE 6 , Table 1 & Table 2)

Material examined. Holotype — MCCDRS9445, Nameless Island , 0.67° S, 90.586° W, 24 m, 9 Aug 2003 GoogleMaps . Paratype — MCCDRS9444, Los Hermanos Islands , 0.867° S, 90.782° W, 9 m, 18 Jan 2003 GoogleMaps .

Type locality. Nameless Island .

Habitat and distribution. Nameless Island and Los Hermanos Islands. Found growing on vertical rock walls; 9–24 m.

Description. Very thinly encrusting sponge, base 3 mm thick, densely covered with long, thin oscular fistules, ≤ 2 mm in diameter (height unknown as collected specimen is too small). Aquiferous canals are visible under the semi-translucent surface membrane, giving the sponge a punctate appearance. Colour in life lilac with patches of cream and tan, tips of fistules are translucent white ( Fig. 6A View FIGURE 6 ). Colour in ethanol is tan. Fistules collapse upon preservation. Texture is very soft, compressible, easily torn.

Skeleton. Ectosome is a tangential, isotropic reticulation ( Fig. 6B View FIGURE 6 ). Choanosome is an anisotropic reticulation with primary tracts that are multispicular and ascend parallel to one another, secondary tracts are unispicular and regularly connect the primary tracts. Spongin is moderately abundant at the nodes ( Fig. 6C View FIGURE 6 ).

Spicules. Megascleres —small oxeas with sharply pointed tips; 120 (111–139) × 7 (4–9) µm (n = 40) ( Fig. 6D View FIGURE 6 ).

Etymology. Named for co-author Cleveland Hickman’s grand-daughter Claire.

Remarks. Only one species of Haliclona has been described from the Galápagos Islands — H. (Rhizoniera) enamela Laubenfels, 1930 , a light brown, thinly encrusting sponge with small oscules (≤ 1.5 mm in diameter), small oxeas (~120 µm) and no ectosomal skeleton.

Two species of Haliclona (Haliclona) have been described from the tropical/subtropical eastern Pacific. The most similar species to H. (H.). clairae sp. nov. is H. sonorensis Cruz-Barraza & Carballo, 2006 from the Mexican Pacific Coast. This species is thinly encrusting, dark purple, and has similar sized oxeas (127 (100–145) µm) but lacks the long fistular oscules of H. (H.) clairae sp. nov. Haliclona (H.) ambrosia Dickinson, 1945 from California differs from H. (H.). clairae sp. nov. by possessing two size categories of oxeas.

Four species of Haliclona have been described from Easter Island that have not been assigned to a subgenus: H. agglutinata Desqueyroux-Faúndez, 1990 , H. rapanui ( Desqueyroux-Faúndez, 1990) , H. nitens Desqueyroux- Faúndez, 1990, and H. translucida Desqueyroux-Faúndez, 1990 . All four species lack the long fistules of H. (H.) clairae sp. nov. In addition, H. rapanui and H. nitens possess two size categories of oxeas, H. translucida is a white or yellowish sponge, and H. agglutinata is a firm sponge with narrow oxeas (≤ 5 µm thick).

Two other species of Haliclona that have not been assigned to a subgenus are described from the tropical/subtropical eastern Pacific. Haliclona macropora ( Thiele, 1905) from Juan Fernández Islands and H. thielei Van Soest & Hooper, 2020 from Chile have similar sized oxeas to H. (H.) clairae sp. nov., but both species lack the long fistular oscules of H. (H.) clairae sp. nov. ( Table 2).