Strange, jelly-like blobs have been appearing in a park in a Vancouver, puzzling Canadians as to their identity and why they’re suddenly showing up.
The creatures, shaped like a human brain, are called Bryozoans, Newsweek reports. They are actually made up of small separate clusters of zooids, microscopic hermaphroditic organisms that merge in clumps to form odd-looking, large blobs.
According to National Geographic, the creatures were initially spotted in Stanley Park. The park has a “lost lagoon” that has been experiencing depleting water levels.
The reason for the Bryozoans’ appearance may be caused by climate change, experts say. In 2012, the US Fish and Wildlife Service theorized that climate change might be forcing these creatures further north, as they can only propagate in waters warmer than 60 degrees.
If this is true, it could be dangerous for local wildlife as the presence of Bryozoans might upset the water ecosystem. This may not even be the first time these blobs have turned up in the lake. They may always have been present, but gone undetected due to the previous deeper waters and the creatures’ muddy color.
Celina Starnes from the Stanley Park Ecology Society said,
We doubt this is the first time they’ve been here.
There are around 5,000 different kinds of organisms that make up Bryozoans, which in turn make up a large number of ecosystems around the world. Some species have been around for as far back as 470 million years ago, according to fossil evidence.
Some of the chemicals found in these organisms can even be used in medicine, specifically the compound bryostatin 1, which is now under trial for an experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
They can, however, be a nuisance. More than 125 species are known to grow on the underside of ships, slowing the vessels down. Too many of them in one place likewise lead to clogged pipes and dirty beaches.