Sydney Lace Corals Bryozoans

Lace Corals are very tiny and insignificant. Large ones are about half a millimetre long. In the sea, they live in prodigious numbers and inhabit many zones in the sea. There are flat forms called membranopora living on Kelp. They look like fine lattice work.

Upright 3-D colonies live on rocks and in caves. There are two major types of Bryozoans. The bushy Bryozoans are home to Sea Spiders. Bryozoans have tiny animals called Zooids. They are extremely fragile and live inside a cement box shaped like a coffin. Most are very delicate and brittle.

Bryozoans have a mop head feeding mechanism called a Lophophore. It swishes food into its mouth. Anatomically speaking, they belong to a primitive group of animals that are called Ectoprocts. This means that their anus is outside the box like home in which they live... good for hygeine. I like to describe Jervis Bay as a Lace Coral dominated ecosystem because of the phenomenal numbers of Lace Corals that are ubiquitous there.

 

 

 
Bryozoan Bryozoanbushy

Feathery Bryozoans such as this Bugula colony have very beautiful little polyps when seen under a microscope.

They are eaten by Tambja verrucosa sea slugs and other Nembrotha sea slugs.
A Bushy Bryozoan, Tricellana is being used as camouflage for this Decorator Crab. Numbers of Bryozoans can be mindblowing. Each branch of these feathers can have scores of Zooids on each side. There could easily be tens of thousands of tiny polyps just in this tiny clump. Large clumps can contain hundreds of millions of perfectly formed little killing machines. They are all clones of each other.
Bryozoangiant bryozoancolony
This cement structure can hold millions of living Zooids. All are clones of each other. Many animals live within the leaves of the cabbage like structure. My favorite is the red white and blue Squat Lobster. It always threatens to rip you to shreds even though it would weigh about one gram. Orange Bryozoan is an erect colony of brittle animals called zooids..