How many people get to start their day with a few nice images of phoronids? You can count yourself among the lucky ones!
Phoronids are invertebrates related to bryozoans and are in their own phylum, Phoronida. There are fewer than 20 described species in the world.
These pictures were taken under a microscope on 27 June 2013. The phoronids are Phoronis vancouverensis from the rocky outer coast.
Phoronids feed with a crown-like structure called a lophophore. Note the U-shaped indentation on one-side. The tentacles are ciliated and actively draw water currents down through the lophophore to trap food particles.
For the record, we also noticed a few very small phoronids (see next image). I'm not sure how old they are, but it's helpful to document when juveniles are present. It might indicate the timing of larval settlement from the plankton.
P.S. See the post from 27 November 2011 for a picture of Phoronis vancouverensis in the field.
P.P.S. In February 2012, I shared images of Phoronopsis harmeri in Bodega Harbor and a little more general information about phoronids.