title for learn-about section on goose barnacles in A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY

photograph of rich growths of goose barnacles Pollicipes polymerus on the west coast of Vancouver Island, B.C.There are 2 types of goose barnacles1 that can be found on our coasts. One type is attached to floating logs and other debris, and is cast up on west-coast shores by the tide; the other is fixed by a stalk to rocks on the shore. The shore-bound variety of goose barnacle Pollicipes polymerus is quite tasty to the palate. The peduncle contains muscles that are prized by Spanish2 and Portuguese gourmands for las tapas.  The animal is steamed or boiled, and then the flexible sheath is stripped off and the muscle bands eaten.  Although stands of goose barnacles such as featured in the accompanying photograph on Frank Island, British Columbia have sustained modest local harvesting (e.g., from First Nations Peoples) for centuries, commercial "clear-cut" harvesting3 has existed in the province only since the 1970s. Catches in British Columbia have declined substantially from peak landings of about 40 metric tonnes in the early 1990s, owing to a decrease in accessible natural stocks and to declining las tapas markets in Spain.

NOTE1  the origin of the word “barnacle” is obscure, but may derive from O.F. bernaque meaning “goose”.  It may be that the English name was first applied to a bird, the barnacle goose, because it was believed that these birds grew from certain “muskles” (what we now know as goose barnacles) growing on trees cast up on the shore by ocean waves.  The GOOSE-BARNACLE LEGEND is presented elsewhere in this learn-about section.  Barnacles were only recognised to be crustaceans sometime in the mid-1800’s when the distinct arthropodan features of their larvae were noted

NOTE2  local stocks in Spain have long since been seriously depleted and are now managed under strict conservation measures.  Spanish markets have thus been keen to augment their local supplies with new offshore sources

NOTE3  the following account of harvesting on Frank Island, British Columbia by Josie Osborne is of interest: "I haven't seen any 'clear-cuts' on Frank Island in the last few years, so I would think the beds have recovered. I worked with the goose barnacle harvesters for about 6yr - a very interesting crew - and learned lots from them. The experienced harvesters only took small fist-sized clumps (selective harvesting), recognising that if they removed larger patches the waves would likely begin working the edges of the clumps then strip them off like peeling an orange. But the less experienced harvesters sometimes made mistakes. There's been no harvesting since about 2006. Sometimes the occasional log smashes into the clumps and the results look exactly like the effects of inexperienced harvesters. We did some harvest-impact studies with the Department of Fisheries & Oceans for about 4yr, but the data, as far as I know, haven't been worked up yet." Josie Osborne, pers. comm. Raincoast Education Society, Tofino, British Columbia

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drawing of snail meeting goose barnacle taken from A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY
© 2010 Thomas Carefoot

To learn about west-coast GOOSE BARNACLES: select a topic from the goose-barnacle menu at the top of the page

OR: play the ANIMATION of the snail meeting the GOOSE BARNACLE

OR, if you want to see other animations: follow the snail on its ODYSSEY by CLICKING on any X-marked invertebrate on the map

map for goose part of A SNAIL'S ODYSSEY
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Barnacles, along with shrimps, isopods, crabs, and amphipods are classified in the Subphylum Crustacea in the Phylum Arthropoda:

Phylum Arthropoda (lit. “jointed legs” G.)

Subphylum Crustacea (lit. “crust or rind characterised by” L.), referring to the hard calcified exoskeleton

Class Maxillopoda (lit. “jaw feet” G.), including barnacles

Infraclass Cirripedia (lit. “curl of hair/feet” L.), referring to the frilly appearance of the feeding appendages of a barnacle, derived from locomotory appendages of the larva; includes acorn and goose barnacles, and kin

NOTE  for readers interested in the phylogenetic inter-relationships of the west-coast goose barnacle Pollicipes polymerus, a study by a group of researchers based principally at Brigham Young University, Utah shows through analysis of 18S rDNA sequences that it is more closely allied with acorn barnacles such as Balanus glandula, B. nubilus, and Semibalanus cariosus than with pelagic goose barnacles such as Lepas anatifera.  Harris et al. 2000 J Crust Biol 20 (2): 393.

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