Different Chauvin residents noticed something strange hundreds of brownish, gelatinous blobs growing in Bayou Terrebonne but have never seen anything like it.
But what are these odd, gooey sacs multiplying in the bayou? Alien cocoons? Monster eggs? Are these blobs dangerous or poisonous.
The mysterious and jelly-like spheres are actually colonies of tiny, non-threatening animals called bryozoans.
Bryozoans show up regularly in other bayous in the area, including Bayou Black. They do not represent any danger to humans, and they’re an important part of the ecosystem.
But what are Bryozoans?
Bryozoans are similar to coral but have more complex bodies. Each of the bulbous masses is a house the bryozoans built. They attach these, called colonies, to whatever convenient space they can find just below the water’s surface.
The colonies can range from fist-size to the width of a cantaloupe or even bigger. Sometimes clumps that break loose can be found free-floating or washed up near the shore.
Scanning electron micrograph of part of a bryozoan colony showing male and female brooding zooids and feeding autozooids
Each Bryozoan has its own small water-filtering arm to collect food. There are also digestive, nervous and reproductive systems. They feed on plankton and algae. The animals secrete a compound called chitin to build a tiny compartment around themselves.
Although weird and odd, a good thing about the creatures is that they’re normally indicative of good water quality. They only bloom in still, clear water.