Less bryozoan diversity but plenty to keep Phil interested at Ningaloo


Phil Bock.
Image: Gary Cranitch

 

By Angus Livingston
 
OW into his fourth expedition with CReefs, Phil Bock has got a good understanding of the biodiversity of bryozoans at Lizard Island, Heron Island and here at Ningaloo.
 
For the uninitiated, bryozoans are tiny invertebrate organisms, also known as lace corals or moss animals, that settle on various parts of the reef and form small colonies.
 
They usually settle on dead coral or the underside of rocks or, in one case that Phil found washed up on the beach here, a piece of plastic.
 
Phil is retired but is still an honorary associate at Museum Victoria.
 
He said the environment at Ningaloo was not as diverse as the areas around Heron Island and Lizard Island, as those islands had larger areas to explore. Instead, Ningaloo had a narrow strip of reef from which to sample.
 
 
"Definitely the places we go to on the Great Barrier Reef have much greater diversity than here," he said.
 
Despite that, Phil has found about 100 species so far and is still turning up more every day.
 
"You pick up a slab of coral and there are 20 different species all over it," he said.
 
Bryozoans are fed on by some animals, but generally compete for space alongside coral and sponges.
 
A number of bryozoans were collected here last year when Phil couldn't attend and he said his collection this year was already showing differences to last year's.
 
"The common ones from last year aren't showing up anywhere nearly as often this year," he said. 
 
Despite that, Phil has found about 100 species so far and is still turning up more every day.
 
"You pick up a slab of coral and there are 20 different species all over it," he said.
 
Bryozoans are fed on by some animals, but generally compete for space alongside coral and sponges.
 
A number of bryozoans were collected here last year when Phil couldn't attend and he said his collection this year was already showing differences to last year's.
 
"The common ones from last year aren't showing up anywhere nearly as often this year," he said.