I had wanted to go up to the mountains today, but that didn’t happen. Beth wanted to go swimming, and since it was so hot, I decided that would probably be better than a hike. So we went to Sandogardy Pond.

I waded out after some more bull head lilies, but before I could get there, my eye caught a familiar (to me) organism:

Pectinatella magnifica, under water

Pectinatella magnifica


Believe it or not, this creature belongs to the Animal Kingdom. It is a bryozoa, a phylum I had never even heard about until 2008 when I found colony of them in this very pond.

Pectinatella magnifica

Pectinatella magnifica

My initial guess was that it was a huge wad of frog spawn, but there was plenty of doubt about that bit of speculation. I sent photos to Fish and Game, and they provided a tentative id and directed me to a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts. He fingered it as Pectinatella magnifica.

I took several photos, and then waded back to shore. There was a deep stretch of water between me and the bullheads, plus I had already found a fairly compelling subject. I showed the photos to Beth, and she wanted to see this creature live. So out we went again. It didn’t take long to find it.

Beth is initially repulsed

Beth is initially repulsed


Initially, Beth was repulsed. Bryozoa are slimy little animals, with every square centimeter covered in mucus. It didn’t take long for her to warm up to the colony though.
Beth pokes at a bryozoa.

Poke!


She did not think to ask to take it home as a pet.

Bryozoa cannot live in polluted water, and being filter feeders, they tend to make the water even more clean. So having them in Sandogardy is a sign of it being a healthy pond. But I still won’t drink from it!

And now to steal a line from Samuel Thayer.

“Good things come to those who wade.”

He was talking about harvesting wapato, but I think it applies to many more situations than just that.