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These strange, jelly-donut-looking blobs are some of the Lake’s most curious critters. And when you spot one, it’s a good sign.

by  Nathan Bechtold

“What is that blob floating in the Lake?”

It’s a common question every summer, and it has an easy answer. While Lake of the Ozarks is known for interesting critters — from mischievous beavers and groundhogs on the shore, to white-tailed deer and bears prone to antics in Lake area neighborhoods — this one causes plenty of awe and confusion annually for residents and visitors alike. Every summer, the water brings forth these unique, harmless creatures: bryozoans.

Photo courtesy of Monique Johnston

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), bryozoans are “moss animals” that live in colonies and build exoskeletons, similar to corals. “The species that creates the round, jellylike masses is Pectinatella magnifica.” Also known as the magnificent bryozoan. So the blob you see is actually an entire colony of tiny animals. Sometimes they’ll be floating freely, though frequently the colonies are anchored to something.


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