from the specimen drawer

from the specimen drawer

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Barnacle Limerick

Steve, here is your requested limerick about barnacles. Also, if you want more on barnacles go to "That's Gross but Cool" post about the amazing barnacle penis (October 8, 2009) and the latest "Inverta-bits" post has a few dirty photos of goose barnacles.

Here it is- hope you like it:

A barnacle's a crustacean- who knew it?
Darwin did- but Linnaeus- he blew it.
What about its hard shell?
And no claws- what the hell?
It's the nauplius larva that proved it!

It was once thought that barnacles were actually mollusks (calcium carbonate shell-like plates threw them off!) Sadly, SOME people still do- I saw a photo on some site that described a goose barnacle as a bi-valve. Shame! Anyway...
Here is a photo re-enacting a barnacle attack on an unsuspecting diver. The manta ray is not intending to help at all- just curious to see if the barnacle can chew through the wetsuit.

Here's a closeup of the barnacle trying to eat the diver. It's ok- he only lost his forearm and his tank. Luckily his diving buddy was nearby and was willing to share his oxygen. (Reminder to never dive alone!)

Really, barnacles are completely harmless unless you are plankton, in which case it's probably pretty scary getting trapped in the cirri ("legs") of the barnacle. Barnacles are suspension feeders, that is, they stick their feathery thoracopods into the water and, essentially, wait to catch whatever swims into their legs and then move the food down to their mouth. Some species of barnacles can actively filter the water by reversing the direction of the cirri and moving their legs in a stroking motion (happens when water currents are slow).

Here is a photo of a striped barnacle, Balanus amphitrite, trying to compete for space with some mussels. (Photo taken on some mysterious black, semi-hard, tar-like formation that formed tide pools over a few years on a stretch of beach on Jekyll Island, GA).
                                                                                           Photo copyright 2008
Hope you liked your limerick Steve! I'll send your other stuff out in a couple of weeks.

To all of my fabulous readers and fellow nerds- talk to you after the new year!


  1. Thanks for my lovely limerick, Heather. I'm certainly blessed. Thanks also for the other details re barnacles. May I report on this topic to my Marine Life Society of SA please? Looking forward to seeing the rest of my prize. Merry Christmas & happy new year to you.

  2. Glad you liked it! Feel free to share any info on my site- I would be honored. Cheers!

  3. Hi Heather
    Happy New Year. I hope that you haven't sent my prizes to me yet, because I haven't seen them. I'm just getting worried about the postal system now. Cheers, Steve

  4. Hi Steve- Sorry haven't sent yet- will send out this Monday! My apologies for the long wait!!!

  5. Thanks Heather. Everything arrived today after I returned from Tasmania. Thanks for sending me so much lovely stuff. Unfortunately 2 shells were damaged. I didn't realize that it was coming from America. Thanks again. Cheers

  6. Glad you liked everything- sorry about the shells!

  7. That's OK, Heather. I'm still learning my way around your blog. I also see that Ben & Carrie Tracks are now followers of Steve's Scuba Site. Thanks everyone.