Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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These jelly-like blobs are colonies of tiny animals, and can be found floating or attached to vegetation in freshwater ponds, lakes and streams throughout Florida. The range was primarily east of the Mississippi, but this species is now present in much of North America.
A colony of Pectinatella magnifica is gelatinous, firm, and slimy to the touch. Typical size is less than 30 cm (1 ft.) in diameter, but can sometimes grow to twice that. The inner mass is composed mostly of water and the surface appears to be covered with little rosettes. The colony can be made up of millions of individuals, called zooids. While genetically identical, individual zooids have separate functions, such as feeding, strengthening or cleaning the colony. There is no blood system, and gaseous exchange occurs across the entire colonial surface.
Commonly called jelly-blobs, bryozoans feed on tiny aquatic plants and animals including diatoms, algae, bacteria and rotifers. This is accomplished using specialized feeding devices called lophophores. Lophophores consist of whorls with delicate ciliated tentacles borne on a ridge surrounding the mouths of individual zooids. When not feeding, the flower-like food-gathering structures are collapsed and completely withdrawn into the interior of the colony.
Other than clogging water intake pipes or drainage grates, bryozoans are not a nuisance, and can be very beneficial in cleaning the water that they live in.
More information on this and many other bryozoans can be found at the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species website.
For more information on this species, visit the following link:
Information and photo-micro-graphs at the FSU Darkfield Digital Image Gallery
Date record last modified:
Dec 01, 2011