Nitella, a bladderwort look alike
Updated: Jul 20, 2020
Judy Capreralla, one of our Lake Hosts, found this small plant floating just below the surface of the water, off of the Conway beach ramp. She packed it up and sent it my way for identification, worried that it might have been an invasive missed during a boat/trailer inspection.
The whirl of branches made me first decide that I had a really young bladderwort. However, no bladders were observed either with the naked eye or with a magnifying glass. I sent the photo below to Amy requesting her help to identify it. She responded with a really neat answer I had not expected.
That is either Chara or Nitella, both macro-algae. They do look like bladderwort though. If it smells skunky it is Chara, if it does not, the Nitella. Neither is anything to worry about.
As my specimen did not smell skunky … I had the macro-algae, Nitella.
NOTE: although you might think that a "macro-algae" would present itself as a small and very thin or wispy mass but it can be enough to fill your hands.
Here is a video that I found: https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/nitella-species/