This study reviews the taxonomy and biogeography of carnivorous sponges (family Cladorhizidae) in the Southern Ocean. Specimens were collected from seamounts in the Drake Passage by dredging and trawling and biogeographical information from other sources was compiled and reviewed. Eight new species of carnivorous sponges are described: Abyssocladia leverhulmei, sp. nov., Asbestopluma (Asbestopluma) sarsensis, sp. nov., A. (A.) gemmae, sp. nov., A. (A.) rhaphidiophorus, sp. nov., Asbestopluma (Helophloeina) keraia, sp. nov., Chondrocladia (Chondrocladia) saffronae, sp. nov., Cladorhiza scanlonae, sp. nov. and Lycopodina drakensis, sp. nov. Specimens of three previously described species, L. callithrix, L. calyx and A. (A.) bitrichela, were also found. These new records increase the number of known carnivorous sponge species in the Southern Ocean by more than a third. We demonstrate that the Cladorhizidae is the second most species-rich family of Demospongiae in the Southern Ocean and many of its species are highly endemic, with 70% found only in this region. Southern Ocean species represent close to 20% of all known carnivorous sponges. This study highlights the importance of seamount and bathyal benthic habitats for supporting the rich and endemic carnivorous sponge fauna of the Southern Ocean.
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Vol. 31 • No. 1