Spiral Bryozoan

Spiral Bryozoan

Authors:  Eden Murray and Claire Troost

Scientific Name:  Bugula californica

Other Common Names:  Stiff Stalk Bryozoan, California Moss Animal, Pacific Branching Bryozo


Bugula californica can grow up to 7.5 cm tall and ranges from BC to Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands. It lives in subtidal zones as deep as 400m. It is commonly attached to hard surfaces, including docks and rocks. Each colony of the bryozoan is shaped similar to an evergreen tree, and is coloured light brown. It reproduces sexually, and after fertilization will form a planktonic larvae that settles in the subtidal zone. It grows through budding or cloning, to grow in a spiral pattern off the main axis. It is a main food source of the Clown Nudibranch (Triopha catalinae), and other nudibranchs including the Frosted Nudibranch (Dirona albolineata) and the White and Orange-tipped Nudibranch (Janolus fuscus).

The bottom of the stalks are mostly darker, dead zooids (an individual of the bryozoan colony). A specialized zooid called Avicularium that looks similar to a bird-head keeps other organisms from resting on and growing on the bryozoan. They will also catch small crustaceans and bring it to the mouth of the zooids to feed it.

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