Notes: Repent and erect branches, grayish, with pinkish or bluish tones, with scattered oscules; often riddled with zoanthids. Spicules in the Bahamas are blunt to mammiform oxea, sometimes almost strongyles. Thickly encrusting specimens photographed in the Bahamas correspond to what Wiedenmayer (1977) described as Niphates digitalis forma amorpha (synonym Gelliodes sosuae Pulitzer-Finali, 1986), and considered as a valid species by van Soest (1980), i.e., N. amorpha, also pictured here. In the Bahamas, coexisting specimens of these two forms are readily distinguished by N. amorpha having acute, pointed oxea. In other Caribbean areas, erect specimens of N. erecta have encrusting areas and there are wholly encrusting individuals in wave-swept shores, but spiculation (pointed oxea), color and general aspect coincide between forms. This led to Zea (1987) to consider N. amorpha a junior synonym of N. erecta. The Bahamian encrusting forms thus seem to be a separate valid species; it remains to be determined if it lives elsewhere in the Caribbean. N. erecta is distinguished from co-existing Niphates alba van Soest, 1980, also pictured here, because the latter has a more smooth surface (patches of smooth skin over subdermal spaces), a more lavender color, and true strongyles as spicules.
Author Reference: Duchassaing & Michelotti, 1864
Link: World Porifera Database