what’s this blob?

My cousin’s family and I dropped some boats in the local lake under a silver sky, paddled, fished and floated…

“Hey look at this!” One of the kids was sure he’d found a froggy egg mass.

It’s wrapped, or grown, around an underwater branch. It’s slimy and about the texture of a zombie brain… or cantaloupe… or sea pork.

This is freshwater so it’s not sea pork, and sea pork is an unearthly shade of orange.

Aplidium stellatum, or Sea Pork, is a colonial tunicate. Tunicates are filter feeding organisms with a sack-like body structure. Tunicates can be either singular or colonial organisms. Other types of tunicates that can be found in South Carolina waters include sea squirts and sea grapes. Sea Squirt Classification. Because sea squirts are in the phylum Chordata, they are related to vertebrates such as humans, whales and fish. All chordates have a notochord, or primitive backbone at some stage. In sea squirts, the notochord is present in the animal’s larval stage.

https://www.mitchellspublications.com/guides/shells/articles/0084/

Sea pork is actually NOT an invertebrate. It’s more closely related to us and other animals with spines.

This is something different…

This is an INVERTEBRATE.

Actually, much like sea pork, it is a colony of tiny zooids. It’s just that the sea pork zooids have notochords (primitive backbones) at one stage of development. These critters do not.

Various species of these (there are about 5000 living species and some fossil ones) live in both salt water, brackish (like Chesapeake Bay marshes), and fresh (like our local lake).

They are called bryozoans.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryozoa

https://www.sms.si.edu/IRLSpec/IntroBryozoa.htm

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/bryozoa/bryozoa.html

 

 

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