Often mistaken for corals, sponges or algae, bryozoans (lace coral and sea mosses) are a colony of tiny animals called zooids. Each zooid is protected by a calcareous (limestone) horny case, which is left behind when the animals die. Colony members are independent of each other, feeding on plankton and other particles suspended in the water. However, when disturbed they will act as one, retracting into their protective case.

Lace bryozoa

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Bryozoans reproduce by external fertilisation, releasing eggs and sperm into the water, which form free-swimming larvae. Larvae then attach themselves to a solid object and divide to create a new colony.

Bryozoan underwater