September 3, 2017
Many have called it a “blob” or a “chunk of goo,” while others have gotten creative with names such as “dragon booger.” But the brain-like “blob” found in Vancouver’s Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park happened to be alive when it was spotted by a group of amateur nature buffs last month. What is this peculiar creature, and are there others out there?
As related by the Vancouver Courier, the creatures found in the Lost Lagoon are called bryozoans, and the species carries the scientific name Pectinatella magnifica. According to Kathleen Stormont, whose group, the Stanley Park Ecology Society, recorded the bryozoan sighting two weeks ago, their colonies are “kind of like three-day-old Jello,” with a firm but gelatinous texture.
The blob from Vancouver’s Lost Lagoon traces its ancestry to about 500 million years ago when bryozoans had first emerged in prehistoric times. The creature had likely originated in what is now known as the Mississippi River and has since been migrating westward, which explains why it was sighted in Canada a few weeks back. And it has a rather peculiar way of taking up its familiar blob form, according to Gizmodo. It all starts with a miniature Pectinatella magnifica reproducing asexually and repeating this process until an entire colony of the creatures is formed.
In simpler terms, the blob spotted at Vancouver’s Lost Lagoon is not a singular animal in the truest sense, but rather a group of animals all clumped together.
The Vancouver Courier noted that the blob found by the Stanley Park Ecology Society was randomly spotted during one of the group’s “24-Hour Bio-Blitz” events, where members assist a team of experts in cataloging various species in the Lost Lagoon. And while bryozoans are known to be difficult to find, due to their ability to camouflage themselves in murky water, the group was able to find several colonies in the lagoon after the first one was spotted.
As it turns out, Lost Lagoon is the “perfect habitat” for the bryozoans, as they were specifically found in a biofiltration pond created 12 years ago to prevent pollutants from the “traffic-congested” causeway from entering Lost Lagoon. Stanley Park Ecology Society public education and outreach manager Celina Starnes explained that this is because bryozoans prefer areas where there is “little to no current” and high levels of nutrients.
Although the bryozoan blob from Vancouver may scare some Lost Lagoon visitors due to its unsightly appearance, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s fact sheet on bryozoans suggests that the creatures’ presence is actually positive and a sign of “good water quality,” as the nutrients they live off are microorganisms found in the water.