Banffshire Coast News

Rare barnacles discovered at Banff Links

Local photographer Andy Martin stumbled on a rare species of barnacle on the beach at Banff Links recently.

Andy established via communications with a marine biologist on Facebook that the rare find was gooseneck barnacles - a fairly rare sighting on Scottish beaches.  Scottish Natural Heritage describes sightings of gooseneck barnacles as "occasional" in Scottish waters. 

In medieval times before the concept of bird migration was understood, people believed that geese hatched from the gooseneck barnacles because of their shape, hence the name given to them.  The barnacles - long writhing stalks or pendulates, tipped with triangular shells - are normally found deep below the waves, but can be washed up on beaches clinging to logs and other water-borne flotsam and jetsam.  Goose barnacles rely on water motion for feeding, leading to the tentacled animals frequently being washed up on shore.  They extend a fan-like array of limbs to catch plankton and attach themselves to surfaces by their stalks, rendering them incapable of moving from the point where they are fixed.

In Portugal and Spain, the barnacles are a widely consumed and expensive delicacy known as percebes.  They have a briny taste and are served steaming hot with their triangular shells still attached.

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