Aquatic invasive species

COFFIN BOX

(Membranipora membranacea)

This European invertebrate, which is a bryozoan, was first found in eastern Canada, Nova-Scotia, in the early 1990's and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec, in 2003.

HABITAT

This species can be found in shallow subtidal waters from the surface down to a depth of ten meters, on kelp and other seaweed, rocks, boat hulls, and other surfaces and organisms. Grows best in areas with strong currents or good tidal water exchanges.
Coffin box - DFO  S. Pereira
DFO  S. Pereira

CHARACTERISTICS

Coffin box - DFO I. Bérubé
DFO I. Bérubé
  • Tiny filter feeders (zooids);
  • Forms white-colored encrusting colonies;
  • The colony has a rough texture;
  • Colonies are round and made up of many small rectangular "cells".

SIMILAR SPECIES

Electra pilosa – DFO I. Bérubé
Electra pilosa
DFO I. Bérubé
Membranipora can be mistaken for Electra pilosa and Cryptosula pallasiana, two native bryozoans. Electra’s colonies are star-shaped and Cryptosula‘s are thicker and orange-colored.
Cryptosula pallasiana – DFO I. Bérubé
Cryptosula pallasiana
DFO I. Bérubé

ECOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS

  • Forms a crust on algae, blocking light needed for photosynthesis and making the algal body stiff and brittle, causing it to break when exposed to waves;
  • Disturbs kelp ecosystems, and promotes establishment of invasive plants, such as Codium;
  • Proliferation in the Gulf of Maine has already destroyed entire kelp forests.
Coffin box - DFO L. Gendron
DFO L. Gendron

WHAT YOU CAN DO