Cinachyrella australiensis (Carter, 1886)

Santodomingo, Nadiezhda & Becking, Leontine E., 2018, Unravelling the moons: review of the genera Paratetilla and Cinachyrella in the Indo-Pacific (Demospongiae, Tetractinellida, Tetillidae), ZooKeys 791, pp. 1-46: 13-16

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Cinachyrella australiensis (Carter, 1886)


Cinachyrella australiensis (Carter, 1886)  Figs 6, 7

Tethya cranium var. australiensis  Carter, 1886: 127 (holotype seen).

Tetilla? australiensis  ; Sollas, 1888: 43.

Spiretta raphidiophora  Lendenfeld, 1888: 43 (type seen).

Tetilla hirsuta  Dendy, 1889: 75 (type seen).

Tetilla ternatensis  Lindgren, 1898: 329 pl. 17, fig. 14; pl. 19, Fig. 25 a-e, a’, b’. Ternate  Not Tetilla ternatensis  ; Kieschnick*, 1896: 527.

Tetilla australiensis  ; Thiele, 1899: 6, pl.1 fig.1; pl. 5, fig.1 a-e. Celebes Sea.

Tetilla ternatensis  ; Kirkpatrick, 1900: 132 (material seen) Not Tetilla ternatensis  Kieschnick*, 1896: 527.

Tetilla lindgreni  Lendenfeld, 1903: 18.

Tetilla australiensis  ; Lendenfeld, 1903: 20.

Tethya hebes  Lendenfeld, 1907: 98, pl. XVI, figs 19-38. 19'South NW Australia, 91 m depth (syntype seen).

Cinachyra isis  Lendenfeld, 1907: 143, pl. XV, figs 54-58, XVI, figs 1-4. Mermaid Strasse (NW Australia) (syntype seen); Dendy, 1922: 16, pl. 10, figs 3a-b.

Tetilla cinachyroides  Hentschel, 1911: 281, textfig. 1. NW Australia, Barrow Island.

Cinachyra nuda  Hentschel, 1912:333, pl. XIII, fig.2; pl. XVIII fig. 13. Aru Island (type seen).

Cinachyra vaccinata  Dendy, 1922: 14, pl. 1, fig. 4; pl. 11, figs 1a-l. Diego Garcia, Chagos Island (type seen).

Cinachyra providentiae  Dendy, 1922: 18, pl.1, figs 5-5a; pl. 10, figs2 a–f. Providence Island (type seen).

Tetilla (Cinachyrella) hirsuta  ; Wilson, 1925: 365, pl. 39, fig.4.

Cinachyra australiensis  ; Burton, 1934: 523. In part, not C. australiensis  in porosa  -group, nor C. australiensis  in schulzei  -group; de Laubenfels, 1954: 241, text-fig. 166.

Cinachyrella anatriaenilla  Fernandez, Kelly, Bell, 2017: 83, figs 2-4.

Material examined.

Holotype NHMUK 1886.12.15.367, Port Phillip Heads, Southeast Australia (as Tethya cranium var. australiensis  ). Holotype NHMUK 1886.8.27.634, Port Jackson, Sidney, Australia (as Spiretta raphidiophora  Lendenfeld, 1888). NHMUK unreg. type, Gulf of Manaar, Sri Lanka (as Tetilla hirsuta  Dendy, 1889). NHMUK 1898.12.20.20 Christmas islands (as Tetilla ternatensis  Kirkpatrick, 1900). Holotype NHMUK 1908.9.24.19-21, 19°17'S 116°E, Gazelle Exp., Western Australia, (as Tethya hebes  Lendenfeld, 1907). Syntype NHMUK 1908.9.24.74, Mermaid Strait, NW Australia (as Cinachyra isis  Lendenfeld, 1907). RMNH unreg. fragment taken from the type (pers. comm. NJ de Voogd) and available in Naturalis collections, Aru Island, Indonesia, as Cinachyra nuda  Hentschel, 1912. Holotype NHMUK 1921.11.7.6, Diego Garcia, Chagos Islands (as Cinachyra vaccinata  Dendy, 1922). Holotype NHMUK 1921.11.7.8, Providence Island, Seychelles (as Cinachyra providentiae  Dendy, 1922). INDONESIA. East Kalimantan, Berau reef, RMNH.POR.11101, RMNH.POR.11102, RMNH.POR.11103, RMNH.POR.11104, RMNH.POR.11105, RMNH.POR.11106, RMNH.POR.11107, RMNH.POR.11108, RMNH.POR.11109, RMNH.POR.11110, RMNH.POR.11111, RMNH.POR11112, RMNH.POR.11113, RMNH.POR.11114, RMNH.POR.11115, RMNH.POR.11116, RMNH.POR.11117, RMNH.POR.11210, RMNH.POR.11124, RMNH.POR.11125, RMNH.POR.11126, RMNH.POR.11127, RMNH.POR.11128, RMNH.POR.11129, RMNH.POR.11130, RMNH.POR.11118, RMNH.POR.11119, RMNH.POR.11120, RMNH.POR.11121, RMNH.POR.11122, RMNH.POR.11123; RMNH.POR.11132; RMNH.POR.11133, RMNH.POR.11134, RMNH.POR.11135, RMNH.POR.11136; Pea Bay, RMNH.POR.11162; Haji Buang Lake, RMNH.POR.11137, RMNH.POR.3511, RMNH. POR.3512, RMNH.POR.3513, RMNH.POR.3516, RMNH.POR.3517; Kakaban Lake, RMNH.POR.11161, RMNH.POR.11138, RMNH.POR.11139, RMNH.POR.11140, RMNH.POR.11141, RMNH.POR.11142, RMNH.POR.11143, RMNH.POR.11144, RMNH.POR.11145, RMNH.POR.11146, RMNH.POR.11147, RMNH.POR.11148, RMNH.POR.11149, RMNH.POR.11150, RMNH.POR.11151, RMNH.POR.11152, RMNH.POR.11153, RMNH.POR.11154, RMNH.POR.11155, RMNH.POR.11156, RMNH.POR.11157, RMNH.POR.11158, RMNH.POR.11159, RMNH.POR.11160. Java, Thousand Islands, RMNH.POR.1969. Ternate  , Ternate reef, RMNH.POR.11308. Sulawesi, Bunaken, RMNH.POR.3108, RMNH.POR.3112, RMNH.POR.3119, RMNH.POR.3122. West Papua, Sawaundarek Lake, RMNH.POR.11163, RMNH.POR.11164, RMNH.POR.11165, RMNH.POR.11166, RMNH.POR.11167; Gam Island, Wallace Lake, RMNH.POR.11168, RMNH.POR.11169 Outside Wallace Lake, RMNH.POR.11170, RMNH.POR.11171, RMNH.POR.11172, RMNH.POR.11173; Gam Island, Blue Water Mangrove, RMNH.POR.11174, RMNH.POR.11175, RMNH.POR.11176, RMNH.POR.11177, RMNH.POR.11178, RMNH.POR.11179, RMNH.POR.11180, RMNH.POR.11181, RMNH.POR.11182, RMNH.POR.11183, RMNH.POR.11184, RMNH.POR.11185, RMNH.POR.11186, RMNH.POR.11187, RMNH.POR.11188, RMNH.POR.11189, RMNH.POR.11190, RMNH.POR.11191, RMNH.POR.11192; Ctenophore Lake, RMNH.POR.11193, RMNH.POR.11194, RMNH.POR.11195, RMNH.POR.11196, RMNH.POR.11197; Outside Ctenophore Lake, RMNH.POR.11198, RMNH.POR.11199, RMNH.POR.11200, RMNH.POR.11201; Big Caulerpa Lake, RMNH.POR.11202, RMNH.POR.11203; Outside Big Caulerpa lake, RMNH.POR.11204; Gam Island, RMNH.POR.11205, RMNH.POR.11206.

Other material: Singapore, RMNH.POR.3520, RMNH.POR.2440, RMNH.POR. 2505.

Other types and material examined (not included as synonyms of C. australiensis  ): NHMUK 1892.8.8.8. Macclesfield Bank, South China Sea Cinachyra schulzei  (unpublished material). Holotype NHMUK 1908.9.24.75 Red Sea, Cinachyra trochiformis  Keller, 1891. Holotype NHMUK 1907.2.1.14, Gulf of Manaar, Sri Lanka, Tetilla poculifera  Dendy, 1905. Holotype NHMUK 1912.2.1.35, Tella Tella Kebira, Red Sea, Chrotella ibis  Row, 1911. RMNH unreg. fragment taken from the type (pers. comm. NJ de Voogd) available in Naturalis collections, Kei Island, Indonesia, Cinachyra mertoni  Hentschel, 1912.


External morphology. Globular sponges, size from 4 to 10 cm in diameter (Figure 6A, B). Surface hispid due to the projecting spicules; covered by numerous porocalices. Porocalices are abundant bowl-shape with open oval apertures, up to 10 × 5 mm and 5 mm deep, or bottle-shape, up to 18 × 6.5 mm, with minuscule apertures (2-3 mm diameter), size of porocalices can vary between habitats; a cloaca, defined as a central exhalant cavity (Boury-Esnault and Rützler, 1997), is distinguishable at the top of some specimens (Figure 6A); in preserved material some porocalices are open. Color generally bright yellow when alive, which turns paler or even white in ethanol. In the field, the sponge can appear brownish due to sediment or greenish due to association with algae.

Skeleton. No cortex. Skeleton composed by bundles of oxeas and triaenes radiating from a central core.

Megascleres. Holotype and Indonesian specimens’ measurements are shown in Table 6. Holotype, oxeas 3375 –4135.5– 5500 mm × 15 –24.7– 37.5 mm (Figure 6D, K); no triaenes were observed in the type specimen; in Carter’s description, protriaenes are described (135 mm long) and the absence of anatriaenes was explained as their heads broke off when collected; Indonesian specimens have a wide size range of oxea 1000-5500 mm (Figure 6C), abundant anatriaenes (Figure 6F), with rhabd 2250 –3224.4– 4250 mm × 2.5 –5.7– 10 mm, cladi thin, mainly with obtuse angles 30 –70.6– 100 mm × 20 –51.7– 80 mm × 2.5 –4.9– 10 mm; protriaenes (Figure 6E), with thin and long cladi (20 –57.1– 80 mm × 25 –86.9– 170 mm × 2.5 –7.5– 12.5 mm), rhabd up to 5800 × 20 mm, tapering to dimensions of < 1 mm; few prodiaenes also observed, having smaller cladi (20-30 mm × 20-30 mm); no calthrop-like triaenes.

Microscleres. Numerous acanthose microxeas, holotype, 117 –166.9– 260 mm (Figure 6I, J), slightly larger in the Indonesian material 137.5 –184.7– 270 mm (Figure 6G, H); sigmaspires vary within the same range in both, holotype and Indonesian specimens, 10 –14.4– 20 mm, C-S shape (Figure 6L, M).


Cinachyrella australiensis  occurs in reefs, mangroves, and marine lakes, ranging in depths from 0 to at least 30 m, possibly deeper. Specimens can be covered by sand and mud; or in symbiosis with algae, resulting in green external color. This species produces 1-2 mm sized buds (Figure 8) and buds are extensively observed in specimens collected from marine lake habitats.


Cinachyrella australiensis  has a wide distribution in Indonesia, including Berau, Bunaken, Raja Ampat, Ternate  , and Java. Previous Indonesian records are from Spermonde Archipelago in Sulawesi (de Voogd and Cleary 2005, Becking et al. 2006, de Voogd et al. 2006), North Sulawesi ( Calcinai et al. 2017), Berau ( de Voogd et al. 2009, Becking et al. 2013), Thousand Islands in Java ( de Voogd and Cleary 2008), and Raja Ampat ( Becking 2008). In addition, this species has also been found in Gulf of Oman ( van Soest and Beglinger 2008), Seychelles Islands ( Thomas 1973) Southwest Madagascar ( Vacelet et al. 1976), Zanzibar ( Pulitzer-Finali 1993), Thailand ( Kritsanapuntu et al. 2001a - b, Putchakarn 2007), Singapore ( Lim et al. 2008), Vietnam ( Azzini et al. 2007), Philippines ( Longakit et al. 2005), Northern Territory of Australia ( McDonald et al. 2002), and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia ( Burton 1934).


In the type description of C. australiensis  Carter (1886), the author did not observe anatriaenes as it can be interpreted from his statement: "I saw no anchors (smaller tetractinellids with recurved arms); but as their heads when exposed are generally broken off (for they catch in everything that they touch), it does not follow that they do not form part of the spiculation, particularly as they are present in most of the other species that I have been described (sic)". We examined the holotype kept at the Natural History Museum ( NHMUK 1886.12.15.367) and found neither anatriaenes nor protriaenes. In addition, most of the oxeas were broken in the type specimen. Within all the examined material there is a high variability in the presence or absence of triaenes without a distinct geographic pattern. This variation may be related to where the sponge was cut, as it seems that triaenes are particularly abundant around the porocalices compared to other parts of the sponge. These fragile spicules are also easily broken off. We still assign our specimens to the species C. australiensis  due to the characteristic presence of acanthose microscleres. It is furthermore one of the most common names used in the literature since its description and without further evidence we do not want to cause more confusion. Further examination of Cinachyrella  specimens from Australia, in particular from the type locality of C. australiensis  , will shed more light in this situation. It is quite possible that after a review of specimens from Southern Australia, it will be evident that the Indonesian specimens that we assign to C. australiensis  should in fact be assigned to another species. In that case one of the junior synonyms should be used, e.g. C. raphidiophora  or C. hirsuta  .

Although our focus was on Indonesian species, it was unavoidable to attempt, for the first time after Burton’s review (1934), check the status of his large list of junior synonyms, because some of them were described or later found in Indonesian localities. We gathered as many type specimens as possible, most of them repositories of the NHMUK (London) and NMNH (Washington DC). The main criteria we used to suggest a species as junior synonym of C. australiensis  were the presence of acanthose microxea and that the mega- and micro-scleres have the same size range of the species. Therefore, here we include as junior synonyms the following species from Burton’s list: Spiretta raphidiophora  Lendenfeld, 1888; Tetilla hirsuta  Dendy, 1889; Cinachyra isis  Lenfenfeld, 1907; Tetilla cinachyroides  Hentschel, 1911; Cinachyra nuda  Hentschel, 1912; Cinachyra vaccinata  Dendy, 1922; Cinachyra providentiae  Dendy, 1922. They all fulfill the C. australiensis  description.