On August 7th at three o’clock in the afternoon, while conducting benthic surveys on Ike’s reef, some of our summer interns came across the annual spawning event for the Brown Encrusting Octopus sponge (Ectyoplasia ferox). These common bright orange tubular sponges immediately caught their attention because they appeared to be smoking. When the interns took a closer look the smoke appeared to be stringy neon orange mucus attached to the sponges.DCIM102GOPROGOPR3241.The mucus filaments contain fertilized eggs that hatch into larvae and settle down on the reef to form new sponges. The Brown Encrusting Octopus Sponge, like most sponges, is a hermaphrodite; meaning they function as both sexes simultaneously. Fertilization takes place within the sponge once sperm makes its way through the water column to an individual of the same species. August is the usual time for the spawning of this species and a number of variables make it hard to predict the exact date to witness this unique event. These sponges are generally found on coral reefs and other nearby areas at depths from 40 to 75 feet, so keep an eye out this month!