Ophyridium versitale, the green jelly blob Photo credit: Emily Hey
We took one of the green jelly blobs, Ophyridium versitale, inside for a week and monitored it under a Swift 80 microscope. It looks like bumper cars in there. Hundreds of tiny seed-like black specs are moving waywardly around the jelly mass, bumping into each other. These specs could be a number of active microorganisms, says one online naturalist: “mastigotes, euglenids, chlorophytes, heliozoans, diatoms, bacteria, rotifers, nematode worms, other ciliates, and even tiny crustacean copepods.” As the cells of the Ophyridium reproduce they remain on the outside of their secreted blob and open up space for many microscopic animals to live: hence, Ophyridium, the “floating zoo.”
Beaver work on the Lost Pond trail Photo credit: Whitney McCann
It may be no coincidence that our green jelly blobsurfaced in Pinkham Notch’s beaver pond. The Ophyridium does well in nutrient-rich, fertile waters, where it can take in and recycle nitrogen from the pond’s bacteria and carbon from the photosynthesizing algae. It blooms where aquatic plant life is prolific, and one place where that’s so is the beaver pond. When the beaver dams up a pond to bring the elements of its aquatic habitat closer to it, it creates a tightly engineered ecosystem with marshy edges and silted bottoms that becomes a home for many other water and land species.
Visit Pinkham Notch’s Lost Pond to see how active the beaver family is. This gnawed white birch is in the middle of the trail. Stop there and look directly across the pond and you will see where the trunk and all the tree’s branches are now.