Saturday, December 08, 2012

Never trust a barnacle ...

... to behave with decorum.

I wanted photos of feeding barnacles. Hard to get without a hair-trigger finger and a fast camera, but I've collected a few. Three seemed passable, and I set about editing them.

I got more than I bargained for.

One barnacle feeding

Four barnacles feeding. And a stubby isopod.

Amorous barnacle, reaching out his penis, looking for a mate.

In the blurry sections of the uncropped second photo, a mass of barnacles, there were several others also waving penises about.

The last photo was taken in the beginning of January, last year. Acorn barnacles need cold water to breed, so they start mating in November or December. Each barnacle is hermaphroditic, which is handy, because they can't wander about in search of a suitable mate. Any other barnacle will do, as long as it is within reach of that long, extensible penis. In the photo above, it reaches down past the snail, down to the bottom of the photo. The next barnacle was a bit further away, but this guy could still stretch a ways, up to 10 times his body length.

Links:
About barnacle penises. From BoingBoing
More. From Southern Fried Science
And general barnacle information, from BBC


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5 comments:

biobabbler said...

Then, I wonder if the feeding structures also function as flirty, batting eyelashes?

Lucy said...

It doesn't appeal, being a barnacle. Not very romantic. Wonderful pictures though.

Lucy said...

Oh! Where's the Tweet button gone?

Susannah Anderson said...

biobabbler; Ooh! A whole rock full of barnacles batting their eyelashes!

Lucy; Romance is dead!

So is the Tweet button, for some reason. I'll reload it. Thanks for letting me know.

Judy said...

The feeding tentacles are so feathery and beautiful!!
I love the first photo in the next post - the reflection of the clouds in the still water!!
And the kelp float is such a wonderful colour!!