“Moss Animals” Visit from Over the Falls!

Our visitor from over the dam at Sutton Falls is called a “moss animal” or bryozoan with a Latin name of Pectinatella magnifica.

Brotozoans were first photographed last year in Manchaug Pond. These two photos were taken on the east side of the channel. Brotozoa are living colonies which attach themselves to rocks, branches and docks. My summer neighbor brought them to my attention as he noticed these “growths” on the rocks in the water in front of his cottage. He said in his 50+ years on the lake he had never seen anything like it. He thought they were masses of fish eggs but when handled they did not separate into individual egg cells.

Fisheries Biologist, Richard Hartley of MassWildlife confirmed last year’s finding/identification and reported to us in an email:

“what you have at the pond are bryozoans. They fool the best
of folks when you see them for the first time. When I first encountered
them doing pond surveys I thought they were an egg mass of some kind.
They are actually colonies of thousands of individuals that come
together to form a colony much like coral in the ocean. I have some
technical information I can send you, but if you search for bryozoa in
Google, there are a lot of good articles on them. They do seem to be
more prevalent in some years but best I can gather from my research,
they tend to prefer eutrophic waters (high nutrients) and can actually
act to clear the water since they are filter feeders.”

Next week, I’ll share photos of another visitor from over the falls – Wolffia – this visitor traveled from the inlet at the Old Holbrook Place, along the eastern shoreline, all the way to the public boat ramp in one day via the nor’easter.

Here’s a link to view Bryozoa in the Connecticut River:
http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/conn.river/bryozoa.html

Here’s a link to observations made on Lake Cochiuate:
http://www.millermicro.com/bryozoa.html

For information on eutrophic conditions and solutions:
http://lakeaccess.org/ecology/lakeecologyprim15.html

To link to MassWildlife:
http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/fisheries/fisheries_home.htm

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