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Posted 10/15/2014

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By Grover Pegg
USACE Pittsburgh District

What is that blob in the water? Is it some sort of fish egg?  No.  Maybe it’s some sort of frog or salamander egg? No.

Despite the fact that this jelly-looking blob resembles an egg, it’s actually one of more than 5000 species known as Bryozoa or moss animals. They are largely unknown to most people.  Bryozoans are aquatic organisms usually living in colonies of interconnected individuals. This particular specimen was found at a boat ramp at Mahoning Creek Lake in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.

Found in jellylike colonies in warm, slow moving water, Bryozoa are colonial animals much like sponges. Also like sponges, they filter water for their food.

Most Bryozoans produce a variety of chemical compounds, some are used in medicine.  One marine Bryozoan produces a compound, Bryostatin-1, which is currently being tested as an anti-cancer drug.

So, if you spend time at Mahoning Creek and Crooked Creek lakes, you just might see one of these interesting animals.



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