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Overview

Brief Summary

Goose barnacles have a misleading name. They have nothing to do with geese. Just like acorn barnacles, goose barnacles are crustaceans. However, unlike acorn barnacles, goose barnacles stand on a stalk. They regularly stick out a 'dip-net' to fish food from the water. The dip-net is made up of transformed legs, similar to that of the acorn barnacle. Up till the 17th century, one thought that goose barnacles grew on trees and that they were larvae from barnacle geese. In fact, that's how the goose got its name! The stems of the barnacle in particular are a delicacy in southwestern Europe.
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Biology

Goose barnacles are marine crustaceans but, unlike many other members of their class, they are hermaphrodites, meaning that the animal has both male and female sexual organs. Their eggs hatch into free-swimming larvae, which drift with the ocean currents as one of the immense number of animals that comprise zooplankton. As they develop, the larvae attach themselves to an object by way of a strong stalk or 'peduncle'. Once they have attached themselves to an object, they do not move again unless torn off by accident. As they grow they develop a feathery feeding apparatus, which filters particles of food from the water as the current passes over it. This filter can be speedily withdrawn inside the hard capitulum when the barnacle feels threatened. If barnacles grow in sufficient numbers on the hull of a ship, they increase the vessel's drag though the water and have to be removed when the ship is dry-docked. However, they were considered a great delicacy in some parts of the world. Even in Cornwall, if a boat arrived with clusters of barnacles attached to the hull, they were scrapped off and sold for food.
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Description

Goose barnacles gave rise to one of the strangest of animal beliefs. The heart-shaped shell, or 'capitulum', is a chalky-white in colour and has black lines, which were thought to resemble the head of the barnacle goose Branta leucopsis. Because barnacle geese rarely nest in Britain no-one had ever seen their eggs or nests. It was supposed, therefore, that the geese 'grew up on the planks of ships' and the birds finally emerged clothed in feathers and flew away. This curious theory also provided a convenient way round the church's ban on eating meat or flesh on Fridays. As the barnacle goose was obviously “not born of the flesh” but from a barnacle, they could be eaten not just on Fridays but throughout Lent!
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Comprehensive Description

Description

 Lepas anatifera is made up of two parts; the capitulum, 4-5 cm long, bears the feeding tentacles and body of the barnacle, and the peduncle, 4-85 cm long, which is a flexible, contractile stalk that attaches the barnacle to floating objects. The capitulum is roughly oblong with five smooth white plates, separated by red/brown or black tissue. If Lepas anatifera is observed underwater, the brush-like feeding appendages may be seen protruding from lower end of the animal.A guide to the identification of the various species of Lepas is given by Bassindale (1964).
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Biology/Natural History: This seems to be the most common pelagic gooseneck barnacle along the Washington coast. The opening of this barnacle is lined with beautiful scarlet tissue. The peduncle (stalk) is purplish-brown. Reaches sexual maturity when the capitulum is about 2.5 cm across. Fertilization is internal. Young are brooded in a mass attached to the mantle wall. Nauplii are released after about a week.

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This gooseneck barnacle (attached by a fleshy stalk) has a flattened capitulum with only 5 plates. Attaches to floating objects such as driftwood, glass, or plastic. It has no notch on the side that borders the scutum. The plates are covered with fine striations.
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Source: Invertebrates of the Salish Sea

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Distribution

Geographical Range: Cosmopolitan in the open sea (pelagic). Often found washed up on the beach on the open coast; on our shores not usually washed up south of Point Conception, CA.

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Range

Goose barnacles occur throughout most of the temperate seas of the world.
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Physical Description

Look Alikes

How to Distinguish from Similar Species: Mitella polymerus, the other goosneck barnacle commonly found intertidally, has more than 10 plates in the capitulum and attaches to rocks. Lepas pacifica has a notch on the side of the capitulum that borders the scutum. Lepas hilli has smooth plates and 3 or more filamentous growths from the base of the first cirri.
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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 11 specimens in 3 taxa.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 2 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 2909
  Temperature range (°C): 1.605 - 2.916
  Nitrate (umol/L): 28.470 - 38.052
  Salinity (PPS): 34.210 - 34.652
  Oxygen (ml/l): 2.401 - 6.136
  Phosphate (umol/l): 1.908 - 3.012
  Silicate (umol/l): 26.666 - 173.635

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 2909

Temperature range (°C): 1.605 - 2.916

Nitrate (umol/L): 28.470 - 38.052

Salinity (PPS): 34.210 - 34.652

Oxygen (ml/l): 2.401 - 6.136

Phosphate (umol/l): 1.908 - 3.012

Silicate (umol/l): 26.666 - 173.635
 
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 A pelagic species attached to hard floating objects such as logs.
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Depth Range: Shallow pelagic, usually within a meter of the surface attached to a floating object.

Habitat: Pelagic, attached to floating wood and debris.

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This species is found attached to rocks, the planking of wooden ships, on driftwood, discarded rope; in fact, anything floating or fixed. A related species has also been found attached to the bodies of whales.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Lepas anatifera

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Genomic DNA is available from 2 specimens with morphological vouchers housed at Australia Museum
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Status

Common
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Threats

Goose barnacles are common around the British coast and, apart from the ever-present threat of marine pollution, are not presently endangered.
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Management

Conservation

As this species is not listed as threatened, there are currently no conservation programmes for goose barnacles.
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Wikipedia

Lepas anatifera

Lepas anatifera, commonly known as the pelagic gooseneck barnacle or smooth gooseneck barnacle, is a species of barnacle in the family Lepadidae. These barnacles are found, often in large numbers, attached by their flexible stalks to floating timber, the hulls of ships, piers, pilings, seaweed and various sorts of flotsam.[2]

Description[edit]

Barnacles dangling from a piece of timber, from the Natural History Museum, London

The body or capitulum of Lepas anatifera is supported by a long, flexible stalk or peduncle. There are five smooth, translucent plates, edged with scarlet and separated by narrow gaps. The plates have growth lines parallel with their margins and a few faint radial sculpture lines. Inside the capitulum, the barnacle has a head and thorax and vestigial abdomen. A number of brown, filamentous cirri or feeding tentacles project from between the plates. The peduncle is tough and a purplish-brown colour. The capitulum can grow to a length of 5 centimetres (2.0 in) and the peduncle varies between 4 centimetres (1.6 in) and 80 centimetres (31 in).[3]

Distribution[edit]

Lepas anatifera has a cosmopolitan distribution and is found in tropical and subtropical seas worldwide. Because it is often attached to objects carried into colder seas by currents, such as the North Atlantic Drift, it is often found well away from its place of origin and in waters too cold for it to reproduce. In this way it has been recorded from Norway, the Shetland Islands, the Faeroe Islands, Iceland and Spitzbergen.[3]

Biology[edit]

Lepas anatifera is a hermaphrodite and starts to breed when it is about 2.5 centimetres (1 in) long. Fertilisation is internal and the eggs are brooded inside the mantle for a week before emerging as free swimming nauplius larvae. After further development, drifting as part of the plankton, these settle onto floating objects.[2]

Lepas anatifera has long been known to grow on sea turtles, but in 2008, some small specimens were found attached to an American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) on the Pacific coast of Mexico. This crocodile species mostly inhabits mangrove swamps and river estuaries but it is salt tolerant, and is sometimes found in marine environments. In this instance, the size of the goose-neck barnacles indicated that the crocodile must have been in the sea for at least a week. This is the first time that Lepas anatifera has been recorded as an epibiont of a crocodilian.[4]

Origin of the name[edit]

In 13th-century England the word "barnacle" was used for a species of waterfowl, the barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis). This bird breeds in the Arctic but winters in the British Isles so its nests and eggs were never seen by the British. It was thought at the time that the gooseneck barnacles that wash up occasionally on the shore had spontaneously generated from the rotting wood to which they were attached, and that the geese might be generated similarly. Credence to the idea was provided by the tuft of brown cirri that protruded from the capitulum of the crustaceans which resembled the down of an unhatched gosling. Popular belief linked the two species and a writer in 1678 wrote "multitudes of little Shells; having within them little Birds perfectly shap'd, supposed to be Barnacles [by which he meant barnacle geese]."[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lepas anatifera Linnaeus, 1758 World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  2. ^ a b Lepas anatifera Linnaeus, 1758 WallaWalla. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  3. ^ a b Lepas anatifera Marine Species Identification Portal. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  4. ^ Fabio Germán Cupul-Magaña, Armando Rubio-Delgado, Armando H. Escobedo-Galván and Carolina Reyes-Núñez (2011). "First report of the marine barnacles Lepas anatifera and Chelonibia testudinaria as epibionts on American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)". Herpetology Notes 4: 213–214. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  5. ^ Barnacle American Heritage Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-12-04.
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