With the increased awareness of harmful algal blooms (HABs), the Upper Saranac Foundation has received numerous inquiries about gelatinous blobs below the surface of the water. These mysterious blobs are not a HAB or a cyanobacteria, nor are they toxic or harmful to the environment. Rather, what is being reported are colonies of freshwater bryozoan Pectinatell magnifica. These are microscopic aquatic invertebrates that live on submerged surfaces that have bonded together to form a gelatinous globule.
The translucent jelly-like globules are also often mistaken for fish or frog egg sacks. Bryozoan colonies are native to the Adirondacks and the eastern U.S. and are often found attached to sticks or docks. They are filter feeders, meaning they eat algae and other small creatures. They can grow to be as big as two feet in diameter.
During the autumn season, each colony produces thousands of small seed-like disks that remain dormant during the winter and will germinate the following spring.
Unlike a HAB, freshwater bryozoans help clean the water and are generally indicators of a healthy aquatic environment.