Wild Fact #872 – Choose Wisely Young Barnacle – Barnacles

Photo by Bev Wigney

So far this week, we have looked at a couple of very cute animals with the wombat and the koala bear.  I figured I would take a different turn with today’s fact and talk about Barnacles.  That’s right the thing you find on the side of your boat.  Believe it or not, they really are animals! Go ahead and look it up if you don’t believe me.

Barnacles are a type of crustacean so they are related to crabs and lobsters. Personally, I would prefer to chow down on a nice tasty lobster but that is just me.  Juvenile barnacles are actually free floating until they decide to attach themselves to something nearby such as a rock or a boat.  They have to choose very wisely though since they will remain in that spot for the rest of their lives. I thought the koala bear and the wombat were lazy for sleeping for 18 hours. Barnacles don’t move for the majority of their life.  Now that is lazy! Some barnacles can be parasitic but most are suspension feeders that sit in the water column and draw particles into them using tiny, feathery appendages.  These feathery appendages are basically modified legs.  Who would have thought that barnacles actually have legs!

So how do these little crustaceans manage to stay stuck onto these objects? Wow, thank you for such a thought provoking question.  Believe it or not, free floating crustaceans (remember, these are the juvenile barnacles) actually have a cement gland that can be found at the base of their antennae. Basically, they cement themselves onto whatever they feel like living on for the rest of their lives.  You may have noticed that I said their cement gland was at the base of their antennae.  So now, what do you think this means? That’s right, this means that most barnacles are technically hanging upside down.  Did you know that barnacles were held in place by their heads? I think this might make barnacles one of the most headstrong animals that I know.

I hope you enjoyed today’s fact about barnacles.  Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for Friday’s Fun Wild Fact!

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