Janene and John Gorham found this organism on the southeast shore of our lake earlier today, August 23, 2016. Having never noticed such a growth previously, Janene sent out inquiries as to what the creature might be and whether or not it was harmful to the lake.
We appreciate an efficient and informative response from Jonnie Maloney, Program Coordinator at the Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program.
According to Jonnie,
“This looks like a bryozoan colony, also known as moss animals. They are harmless filter feeders, and are actually good for the lake. If you can return it to exactly where you found it (but back in the water, if it had washed up on shore), that would be most beneficial to them, since they are accustomed to living in that area. Typically they prefer brackish water, and are usually found attached to the underside of docks, branches, etc. If you find them in the future, it’s best not to disturb them, if possible”.
So, if you happen across a bryozoan colony, go ahead and share some photos. Return it to the water if it has washed ashore. Otherwise, hands off is the best policy!
Thanks for the lesson, Janene!