Reteporella grimaldii, also known as neptunes' lace, is a colonial bryozoan whose reticulated and wavy laminar structures are very striking under water. These structures are calcified, but are quite fragile. Their color is slightly variable between individuals, with colors ranging from salmon pink to pale yellow. The different zooids that make up the colony open up through the internal face of the laminar structures, where through the movement of a small crown of tentacles, they are able to generate a suction current that allows them to capture small prey from the zooplankton they feed on.
We will find these colorful Reteporella grimaldii colonies on rocky bottoms and in a very wide range of depths, from 15 meters to 850 meters. They prefer non-turbulent waters, and therefore with gentle currents.
As for the size of Reteporella grimaldii, generally speaking, colonies do not exceed 10-15 cm in height.
Extensive regions where we can observe colonies of Reteporella grimaldii, as well as the size of these colonies, are two factors that indicate the general absence of divers, or a community of divers that is very respectful of the ecosystem. This is due to their extreme fragility, which means that at the slightest touch or rubbing, they tend to break..
The reproduction of Reteporella grimaldii occurs by releasing eggs and sperm to the water, where fertilization occurs and a larva is created that becomes part of the plankton for a few weeks. After this time, the larva descends to the bottom, where it clings to the substrate and begins the creation of a new colony. These are hermaphroditic animals, that is, the same individual has both sexes. In addition to the previously mentioned external fertilization, numerous cases have been described in which fertilization can be internal (an individual's eggs are fertilized by his own sperm), thus releasing the already created larvae directly into the stream.Photos: