Glue Grass, Identified
It’s not a seaweed at all, but rather an animal.
An organism that has brought commercial fishing off the southern Outer Banks to a near standstill looks like seagrass but may actually be an animal.
“We’re not one hundred percent sure, but it looks like it is sauerkraut bryozoan,” said Terri Kirby Hathaway, education specialist with North Carolina Sea Grant, from her Manteo office Thursday morning.
Hathaway said scientists with the state Division of Marine Fisheries have collected specimens for positive identification.
Sauerkraut bryozoan (zoobotryon verticillatum) is a tiny water animal that forms colonies in warm and tropical waters in the western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The animal has tentacles, a gizzard, and colonies usually have a clear or milky color.
A fisherman on the beach near Hatteras Inlet Thursday said the organism reminded him of the artificial grass used in Easter baskets. Another said that when she first saw it on the beach, she thought it was a clump of monofilament fishing line.
Often mistaken for seagrass, bryozoans are sometimes called moss animals or sea mats.
Gene Ballance, a commercial fisherman on Ocracoke Island, said the characteristics of the organism he has seen in Pamlico Sound are consistent with descriptions of sauerkraut bryozoans.