Pelagic Gooseneck Barnacle

March 2024
Pelagic Gooseneck Barnacle

Hidden Gems of the Pacific

Pelagic Gooseneck Barnacles, scientifically known as Lepas anatifera, are fascinating marine creatures belonging to the family Lepadidae. Unlike many barnacles that attach themselves to hard surfaces like rocks or boat hulls, Pelagic Gooseneck Barnacles are found floating freely in the open ocean, often attaching themselves to floating debris such as driftwood, plastic, or even the hulls of ships.

Pelagic Gooseneck Barnacles are known for their ability to travel vast distances by hitching rides on ocean currents. This dispersal method allows them to colonize new areas and expand their range across the world’s oceans. They are often found in large aggregations, especially in areas where ocean currents converge, providing an abundant food supply.

These barnacles play a significant role in marine ecosystems, serving as food for marine organisms such as sea turtles, fish, and seabirds. Additionally, their attachment to floating debris can affect the distribution of marine debris and potentially transport invasive species to new locations.

Pelagic Gooseneck Barnacle attached to plastic bottle
We often encounter these little creatures attached to debris! We usually dislodge them and recycle the trash.

These barnacles have a distinct appearance. They have a long, flexible stalk that attaches to the substrate and a white or grayish shell casing that encloses their feeding apparatus. They are filter feeders, using their feathery appendages called cirri to capture plankton and other tiny organisms from the surrounding water as it flows past them.

Overall, Pelagic Gooseneck Barnacles exemplifies the adaptability and resilience of marine life in utilizing unique strategies for survival and dispersal in the dynamic environment of the open ocean. We love seeing these little creatures on tour, as much as all the rest of the amazing wildlife of the Pacific!