Pectinatella Magnifica, a.k.a. “The Blob” Entry for February 08, 2008

I thought this was so fascinating and interesting that I saw fit to include it here. I found this in my travels and had a very difficult time getting it identified. I did finally find a retired assistant Dean in the United States who knew what it was. I have included an article which makes mention of him here. Up to that point, I referred to it as: “The Blob”. I found this specimen in a lake being threatened by an excess nutrient load. A perfect environment for such a creature to flourish.

Now knowing that it is a rare find, I am glad I took a lot of pictures of it. That is why I put it here. Lots of people would never see or hear of it that might now see and become familiar with it here. It actually has relevance to my focus as well. Here is a link to a website that touches on both the orange slime water and the blob:

Below are excerpts from my queries regarding this blob on a university hort board where I also discovered the queries of others in regard to the orange slime water I am so familiar with. Here is the link to go see the entire thread thread:

Old September 25th, 2007
Location: Lower Fraser Valley, Canada
Re: Alien jelly

I have seen a lot of this jelly and have a ton of pics of it, but here is one for the books! What on earth is this? That is where I found it, but could only find one. It was attached to a plant in shallow water. It had seeds, not eggs embedded in it. Has anyone seen anything like this? I have been unable to find anyone who knows what it is.
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Old September 26th, 2007
Location: Lower Fraser Valley, Canada

Here are the seeds as I call them in the jelly I posted which as you can see in the previous post are all gone. What is the insect looking back at you from inside this jelly mass? Does anyone know?
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Old September 26th, 2007
Location: Lower Fraser Valley, Canada

Re: My jelly Blob: It is called Pectinatella magnifica. It is in fact a live organism, and here it is in it’s death stage, normal for this time of year.
Retired assistant Dean of U. of Mass. recognized and identified it. I researched it, and sure enough that is it. It is interesting to research. Has a fossil history of 500 million years, lives in fresh water, and is rare. Is also supposed to be vulnurable to contamination but I found a interesting research article that mentions it’s strong ability to mutate, which could explain how it has survived 500 million years of evolution. It would not likely be harmed by waters containing excess nutrients either as this would feed it.
The “seeds” as I called them are ‘statoblasts”, which are seed colonies of future generations. They will emerge next season.
The insect peering back at us is the only unanswered question here now.

Here is an interesting website with some really cool pictures of this creature found in the US:
And here is the article I mentioned at the top of this page:

Tim Wood on Bryozoa

Subject: Pectinatella magnifica
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 1997 09:33:45 -0500 (EST)
From: TWOOD@

Hello, Dick! Thanks for your inquiry about Pectinatella. I also read your
very interesting account on the web. Welcome to bryozoans!!

The 70-page book you mentioned deals with Ohio bryozoans in general with a
small section on Pectinatella. Unfortunately, it not in electronic format,
although I could mail you a copy along with other papers and articles about
the species. It may depend on how much detail you’d like about life history,
ecology, genetics, histology, etc.

Pectinatella magnifica is a true North American species, first reported from
Massachusetts in 1866. Current records for the state are maintained by Doug
Smith, Zoology Department, 348 Morrill Science Center, University of Massachu-
setts, Amherst, MA 01003-5810. Tel. (413) 545-1956. Email: dgsmith@bio.umass.
edu. PMAG (as we call it here) was reported from eastern Texas in the early
1980’s, has crossed the Pacific to Japan and recently invaded Korea. In Japan
the colonies are described as reaching the size of a large sheep.

Bryozoans in general, and PMAG in particular, removed large quantities of
suspended material from the water, including both suspended algae and
inorganic clay/silt. If colonies are abundant in the lake this year they
could well be responsible for at least some of the water transparency.

Pectinatella populations rise and fall. A large number of colonies this year
does not mean you will see them at all next year. Statoblasts do not survive
freezing very well. Normally they attach to free clumps of algae or other
debris which then sinks to the bottom in the fall. The following spring as
that material decays the statoblasts are released to bob back to the surface
and germinate. (At least that’s the current overwintering theory). An early
summer generation produces quantities of “larvae,” which are actually little
ciliated colonies looking a lot like miniature blimps. These are free-swimming
for 2-24 hours, then settle on a suitable substrate and establish new colonies
for a late summer statoblast-producing generation.

Most freshwater bryozoan grow directly on submerged surfaces, which can soon
become crowded with attached animals. Pectinatella makes its own substrate
with that massive gelatinous core so enormous numbers of zooids can lodge
on small twigs. The slimy surface with its distinctive odor is thought to
repel potential predators, although very little is actually known about that

All the best,
Dr. Timothy S. Wood
Department of Biological Sciences
Wright State University
Dayton, OH 45435
Tel: (937) 775-2542; Fax: (937) 775-3320