Lacy Crust Bryozoan

Preview Lacy Crust Bryozoans
(Bruno Pernet & Russell Zimmer / Nikon Small World)

This colony of a lacy crust bryozoan (Membranipora membranacea) started off as just a single larva drifting in the waves that eventually settled down on a piece of kelp. From there, it budded duplicates of itself in rows, forming a colony. Lacy crust bryozoans can form large colonies covering an entire kelp blade. While they can be an important food source, in some areas (such as the U.S. East coast) they are an invasive species and can damage kelp forests. This photo, taken at 20x zoom, was an Image of Distinction in the 2012 Nikon Small World photomicrography contest.