Bryozoa ... Moss Animals
Bar-D Fishing Club, Mairon, AL
Summer, 2006

By Thomas H. Wilson

Judson College Biologist

A jelly-like blob of moss animals call bryozoans
The large jelly-like blobs that you see in the water in the Bar-D lakes are moss animals called bryozoans. These colonial animals create cellulose "homes" in the water during the warm months of the year.

These blobs are not fungi or algae...they are condos for tiny filter-feeding animals.

Images below show masses of bryozoa attached to pier pilings in Lake Gayle.
Bryozoa colonies on Lake Gayle pier pilings
Bryozoa on pier piling
Bryozoans build their cellulose homes on pier pilings, logs, and most any submerged structure in clean, somewhat clear water. This species of moss animal is Pectinatella magnifica.

Bryozoans do not hurt the fish. These moss animals filter the plankton from the water. They are interesting and fun creatures of fresh and marine bodies of water. Feeding movie of bryozoans.
Manager Wilson collecting bryozoans for labs at Judson College
A colonial "conco" of bryozoa Wilson with a blob of bryozoa
A cellulose blob of bryozoa The white specks on the blob of cellulose are the individual moss animals. When the water cools in late Fall, the animals for tiny, dot-like cycts called statoblasts. The statoblasts sink to the bottom of the lake and remain dormant till the water warms in the late Spring.

The statoblasts are embryonic moss animals. They grow into maturre individuals and form their cellulose condos. They live in these jelly-like masses till cold weather causes them to repeat the life cycle.
I conduct a bryozoa laboratory each fall in my biology class at Judson College. Students are introduced to the bryozoa in lecture and then we collect masses of these colonial creatures from a local pond.

We make hanging-drop living slides of the bryozoa zoids and study them under the microscope. We see living, feeding bryozoa. We also identify their statoblasts and much of the pond plankton upon which they feed.
Wilson's biology class with their prize mass of bryozoa
Sam Blanchard collecting bryozoa masses from a pond
Amanda Richards and Joy Coppock collecting bryozoa from the pond (2006)
Wilson's biology class...2006
Dr. Burnes's biology lab with their mass of moss animals
For more information, contact:
Dr. Thomas Wilson