Gooseneck Barnacle
Pollicipes polymerus

Physical Description

  • Crustaceans with long, fleshy, flexible stalk attached to hard surface
  • Stalk, or neck ranges from reddish-brown to brownish-black
  • Many hard, pearlescent plates at top, protecting the body and internal organs
  • Tiny feathery feet used to both feed and breathe
  • As they grow, they produce more plates

Range

  • From southern Alaska to Baja California, Mexico

Habitat

  • Found on rocky cliffs in the splash zone
  • Often in high-energy, high wave environments because their fleshy necks can survive it well
  • Often in crevices to avoid direct sunlight and limit drying out
  • Often in colonies of other gooseneck barnacles
  • Also found floating on marine debris in the open ocean

Diet

  • Filter-feeders
  • Eat plankton, cypris larvae, small clams, hydroids, and amphipods

Predators

  • Glaucous-winged gulls, sea stars, whelks
  • Humans 

Interesting Facts

  • These are such a delicacy in Spain in Portugal, where they are often steamed and then dipped in hot, melted butter, that they can go for 100 Euros per plate! 
  • Though their long stalk looks like a goose’s neck, their name actually comes from a medieval belief that this is where baby geese actually were hatched from! 
  • One of the most common organisms found on floating marine debris, their length can be used to give a minimum amount of time the item has been floating out at sea

Sources: AtlasObscura; Cabrillo Marine Aquarium; AnimalDiversity.org

Photo: Kevin Lee

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