The trade distinguishes 400 varieties of sponge, but in fact there only exist some twenty species (in the scientific sense) that are marketed worldwide. The main commercial species belong to the family spongiidae and the genera Spongia, Hippospongia, and Coscinoderma.

The special characteristic of these sponges lies in their skeleton, which consists of fibres of spongine, a sort of collagen, which gives these sponges "suppleness, elasticity, and softness".

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