Lost Lagoon is an artificial lake located at the entrance to Stanley Park, one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions. Locals who walk, bike, and run past the lake daily were surprised when a recent BioBlitz in Stanley Park revealed blob-like creatures within the lake. Keep reading to find out just what these mysterious beings are.
The blobs are, in fact, a colony of animals called a bryozoan, or pectinatella magnifica. The conservation programs manager at the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES), Maria Egerton, said the bryozoans live in colonies that include thousands of genetically cloned individuals. When they come together, they can reach the size of a football, and as Atlas Obscura humorously notes, they look “something like a swamp creature’s brain.”
The individuals are called zooids and are tiny invertebrate animals that are cylindrical in shape with a mouth, muscles, nerve center, and digestive tract. Individually, they measure less than a millimeter in length. The SPES says that “as a colony forms, they produce a protein which creates the slimy gelatinous structure that the individual zooids attach to and live on.” Indeed, the bryozoan has a viscous quality, “like week-old Jell-O,” Celina Starnes of the SPES told CBC News.
The bryozoans were discovered during the annual Stanley Park BioBlitz. The SPES believe the blobs have existed for quite some time, but thanks to rising temperatures and decreasing water levels, the blobs have recently become more visible within the Lost Lagoon. Most bryozoan species live in saltwater, but there are approximately 20 freshwater species. In Canada, people have seen bryozoans in central British Columbia (around the Okanagan Valley) and eastern Canada.