Cirilo Laguardia | Sábado, Setiembre 02, 2017
The odd creatures live in rivers and lakes. Image credit Newsweek
A gelatinous, mucus-like creature lurks in rivers and lakes-and it’s called a bryozoan. What appears to be a single alien organism is instead the gelatinous gathering of hundreds of individual bryozoan “zooids”.
They are known to live further south in areas east of the Mississippi River, but this is the first time they have spotted in such a northerly area.
Stanley Park Ecology Society’s Celina Starnes is skeptical, however. Zooids, tiny hermaphroditic organisms less than a millimeter in size, clump up in bundles to form the alarming larger blobs.
“Mysterious, brain-like blob found in lagoon“, says the headline of the magazine’s online story.
Their unique life cycle and method of sustenance mark them as a potentially “invasive” species. A 2012 report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service theorized that climate change could be helping the creatures spread. Because they sustain themselves on algae in nutrient-rich water, their proliferation could very well mean starving out other local organisms vital to a region’s ecosystem. Too many of them in one place likewise lead to clogged pipes and dirty beaches.
University of British Columbia Biology Professor Ian Walker tends to agree, though the research is far from comprehensive. They may always have been present, but gone undetected due to the previous deeper waters and the creatures’ muddy color. He noted that bryozoans have been found just west of Vancouver in the Okanagan Valley.
According to Walker, “it’s something that could have been easily overlooked in the past”.
“I think we’re near the northern limit of them”. “I can only really speculate how they might have spread”. In 2012, the US fish and wildlife service theorized that, since the animals can only spread in warmer waters warmer than 60 degrees, climate change might be forcing them north.