The world of goose barnacles



I set out to walk on the beach earlier tonight and within minutes encountered a large stick, probably 8 to 10 feet, with many small shells attached to it.

I knelt down to have a closer look and discovered little tentacles reaching out of a few of the shells. As I watched, the tentacles began to emerge a little more and reach around. Then they would go back in and then come back out ... like they had landed in a new place and were beginning to check out their new world. It was fascinating. 

A woman and her daughter, who were picking up trash on the beach, saw me watching them and came over to explore too. They told me that they had found a much smaller stick earlier in the day with these shells on them. None of us knew exactly what they were or if the creatures inside them would survive out of water overnight, so we decided to return it to the ocean in case the waves didn't come far enough to reclaim it.
 
I have since learned that the little creatures I watched were barnacles --- goose barnacles. Until tonight, one of the few things I knew about barnacles was that they got stuck to the bottom of boats. Now that I have identified the tiny octopus-like creatures, I'm reading more about them.

Here's a link to a Mother Nature Network article on The curious history of the goose barnacle.


Check out those tentacles.