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‘Jelly Brains’ Spotted in Skytop Lake

BARRETT TOWNSHIP, Pa. — There’s something creepy living in the lake at Skytop Lodge in Monroe County.

It’s called a jelly brain. The colony of moss animals is harmless, but the gooey blobs caught the attention of guests and naturalists during a weekend tour.

The walking trail at Skytop Lodge near Canadensis is peaceful, but get down to the water and you might catch a glimpse of something creepy lurking in the lake.

“They look like a glob of fish eggs and people get excited, like, ‘Oh, my gosh, what kind of fish laid this? Look at how big it is.’ It’s actually thousands of small invertebrate creatures that live in harmony together.”

The cluster is called a bryozoan. It’s also called jelly brains.

Rick Koval is the naturalist at Skytop Lodge. He was leading a guided tour over the weekend and the group came across jelly brains in the lake.

Lodge volunteer Ron Dickey pulled out his cell phone and shot some video of the creepy encounter.

“He says to me, ‘You want to feel it or hold it?’ so I put both my hands out and it was heavy, very dense. It was weird. It was cold. I shouldn’t say this but liver, raw liver, it’s kind of that texture,” said Dickey.

Now even though these creatures look creepy, it’s totally safe and actually good for the water.

The bryozoans usually cluster when conditions in clean water are right.

“This is a real indicator of the purity of this lake. We have a stream that flows into the lake and it’s very clean. It’s nice to know,” Dickey said.

Guests at Skytop Lodge still have time to catch a glimpse of the creatures on one of the guided tours. Naturalists say the jelly brains will break down in the fall.


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