Spiral-tufted bushy bryozoan

Bugula nertina

Family Bugulidae - bryozoans

Colony of polyps; resemble a reddish seaweed, bushy branching tufts, grows upright; color reddish purple, purple brown or dark red; the following characteristics can be seen with the use of a magnifier or dissecting scope: individuals in the colony (called zooids) are enclosed in rigid cup-like structures called zooecia (sing. zooecium); branches in the colony have double rows of zooecia, all facing the same direction, zooecia are stacked one above the other in each row; the rows are staggered so the tops of the zooecia come to about the middle of the zooecia in the other row; the zooecia have no spines on its outer edges although the outer corners are pointed; smooth white globular structures (called ovicells) sit atop the zooecia and contain the embryos of the colony.
Similar Species
Other species of Bugula are white or tan, have spines or bird-head like structures at the ends of the zooecia, and do not have the white globular ovicell structures. Red algae do not have zooids.
Gulf and bay, attaches to hard structures
Maximum Size
bushy structure up to about 15 cm (6 in) in diameter
Other Common Names
brown bryozoan
Previous Scientific Names