Introducing Bryan O'Zoan the Lacy Crust Bryozoan!
While the name is somewhat pleasant, the result of this alien species is not! Originally from Europe and the Pacific coast of North America, these tiny colonial animals build hard, stony skeletons of calcium carbonate. This is bad news for the kelp (seaweed) that becomes a home for the bryozoan. If the lacy crust bryozoan grows on the blade of the kelp, it can cause the blade to break off and, even worse, some Bryan O'Zoan outbreaks can wipe out a whole kelp community! When this happens, Crazylegs Codium can take its place, and the kelp may not be able to grow back. This can change the whole structure of the community. If you think that's bad news...it gets worse! The lacy crust bryozoan has invaded Cape Breton!
After its introduction to the east coast of North America in 1987, it continued to spread southward and northward from Maine, U.S.A., and is now found on mainland Nova Scotia and into Cape Breton. But be aware, it may be difficult to detect the lacy crust bryozoan because there are several native bryozoans in Cape Breton that also grow on kelp, however, the native species do not have such a devastating impact on our local seaweeds.
How to spot Bryan O'Zoan the Lacy Crust Bryozoan:
- Pale grayish-white in color
- Forms large, outward-growing, encrusting colonies which appear lacy or net-like
- Colonies are composed of individual zooids (individual, tiny animals)
- The tiny zooids are rectangular or box-shaped with short spines in each corner
- Each "box" is transparent on the top, so light still penetrates the blade of colonized seaweed
- They are filter feeders (they eat tiny particles in the water column)