29 April 2013

Bryozoans and Hydroids Workshop Day 1

Bryozoans are amazing creatures! We learn this from Dr Dennis P. Gordon on Day 1 of the much anticipated Bryozoans and Hydroids Workshop.
Dr Serena Teo introduces Dr Dennis.
The workshop is organized by the Tropical Marine Science Institute and held at St John’s Island Marine Laboratory.

Sometimes also called moss animals, bryozoans are colonial animals. The colony may form delicate patterns, the little animals with a ring of tentacles, emerging from a repeating pattern of boxes.

Bryozoan colonies can take a bewildering variety of forms! As well as colours and patterns!
Here's the names of some of these forms.
Most of the bryozoans that we might see form thin layers of super tiny 'boxes'.
Here's what an animal in a bryozoan colony might look like. One kind has tentacles that can be retracted into a box. But there are other kinds that form a box to brood eggs, or that are modified to form pinching things or spines that move about.
The tiny animals are beautiful when we take a real close look at them (with super powerful microscopes). Here's what the white ruffled-like bryozoans look like close up.
While most bryozoans are hard because the boxes they live in is hard, some bryozoans look like sponges and may be soft.
Others are totally floppy and jelly-like. We have these glassy branching bryozoans in Singapore too! At first I thought they were hydroids! Oops.
Dr Dennis was very kind to use photos of bryozoans that I shared on the wild fact sheets.
There freshwater bryozoans too. None recorded from Singapore ... yet. So much more to find out!
Dr Dennis believes Singapore has lots and lots of undiscovered bryozoans! Wow, we are super motivated to find more!
The best way to learn more about bryozoans is in the lab! Dr Dennis was very patient in answering all our questions and showing us how to tell if a thing is a bryozoan or not.
There were all kinds of samples of common marine life which Dr Dennis collected in the morning. We squinted at them to see if we could spot bryozoans.
One way to find out if an animal is a bryozoan is to gently touch it. Most are hard and  have tiny bumps.
There is an awesome set up in the lab to project an image of the super powerful microscope. Here is a look at one of the prettier bryozoans which have delicate spines across the tiny animal's delicate parts.
And finally, a glimpse at the tentacles!
Dr Dennis will tell us more tomorrow about these fascinating animals. Like how they have sex! Can't wait.

Meanwhile, another early morning call tomorrow. To make a quick stop at Changi to pick up some live bryozoans and hydroids for the workshop so we can have a look at these fascinating creatures and learn more about them.

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