Not sure what they are but I've seen simular blobs or or clumps of slime floating in marinas over the years.. They look like a fresh water jelley fish without tenticales.. I always wondered what those things were.
BELLE RIVER - The blobs of Belle River aren't stinging jellyfish after all. They're tiny harmless invertebrates that cluster together to form a gelatinous mass as big as a basketball.
And their presence is a good sign for Lake St. Clair.
When similar blobs appeared in 2002 in the east end of Lake Erie, the popular theory was that they were alien pods like those featured in the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
But the things floating near Belle River are called pectinatella magnifica, John Cooper of the Ministry of Natural Resources said Tuesday.
They won't sting you and easily outgrow freshwater jellyfish that are only the size of a quarter, he said.
"It's a sign of good water quality. They're intolerant of pollution."
Over the weekend, Medical Officer of Health Allen Heimann mistakenly identified the blobs as freshwater jellyfish.
Belle River boater Gary Wasserlein said the Jell-O-like blobs caused quite a stir at the marina on Monday. Wasserlein said they look like silicone breast implants.
"I myself have been here 10 years. It was the first time I've ever seen them."
Byron Backus, a Washington, D.C., biologist who has studied pectinatella magnifica, said little research has been done on them. He gets a few calls a year about them, usually at this time in the summer.
They may have been there all along, but no one noticed them. The massive colonies of pectinatella magnifica could also be abundant in one spot one year and scarce the next, he said.
Backus said they like warm water and appear to be moving north.
They can clog intake valves and suffocate competitors like zebra mussels.
"I wouldn't really advise collecting them," he said. "You'll get decay and they'll smell bad."
John Janssen, a senior scientist at the Great Lakes Water Institute in Milwaukee, said pectinatella magnifica are bryozoa which translates into "moss animal."
"They look like a big glob of jelly. You actually have a glob of jelly and on the outside of that glob of jelly is a bunch of little individual animals that are sort of stuck together. Think Siamese twins but it's not Siamese twins. It's Siamese thousands of tuplets."
Janssen, who studies fish, said the individual invertebrates are about a millimetre long and branch off one another. They secrete the jelly and the whole cluster can grow to the size of a basketball.
"They're really cool."
Janssen said they eat algae and tiny aquatic animals.
They die by the end of summer after the pectinatella magnifica fertilize themselves -- they're hermaphrodites with both male and female sex organs -- and leave resting spores like seeds so the process can start over again next summer.
When asked why people don't often see them, he said people don't put their heads under water.
"You can have this big basketball size of jelly right under your feet standing at a dock and you'd never even know it," he said.