This colony of magnificent bryozoans, estiamated to weight 40 to 45 pounds, was scooped into a fishing net at Bateman Island, Washington. These slimy masses are being found more and more around the region as the climate warms. Photo: Paul Krupin / Tri-City Herald

By Paul Krupin
23 September 2017

(Tri-City Herald) – I  was at the boat dock at the west end of Columbia Park watching fellow angler Bill Smith of Kennewick pulling his boat out of the water after spending a few hours fishing for salmon near Bateman Island.

As he peered several feet into the water over the back of his boat, he saw something unusual floating partially in the water at the end of the boat ramp.

“What in the world is that?!” he exclaimed to several other fishermen.

He pointed to an enormous greenish-brown basketball-sized blob of slimy jelly. They got it into a fishing net and hefted the 40- to 45-pound mass onto the shore. It had a translucent body with many star-like blooms along the outside. It could be easily broken into smaller clusters.

I took some pictures of the slimy gelatinous ball of goo, came home and got online.

What he found is called Pectinitella magnifica – a huge colony of micro-organisms called magnificent bryozoans.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the local sighting comes on the heels of an increasing number of reports in the region of this amazing creature.

Each gelatinous blob can reach several feet in diameter and will turn a dark purple with shiny white spots. Each mass is actually formed out of hundreds to thousands of individual feeding organisms, which extend tiny non-stinging tentacles from the edge of the blob into the water to feed.

While they are as slimy as they come, they don’t sting, are non-toxic, and are not dangerous, although they are capable of causing water outtake pipes to clog.

Scientists think that the increased occurrence in our area may be directly related to climate change and global warming. The warmer waters increase the availability of suitable habitat for the magnificent bryozoan.

Rivers and low-lying lakes with fresh water are seeing increased blooms when the water temperatures reach their peak at the end of the summer.

Scientists are concerned about the increasing abundance in our area. The magnificent bryozoan is a non-native invasive species. It is known to occur naturally in the waters east of the Mississippi River. [more]

Slimy green blob invades the Columbia River in Tri-Cities

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