Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sunny interlude

Walking west from White Rock beach, I left a trail of goodies for the crabs and hermits. I couldn't help it; the stones and rocks are crowded with barnacles; at every step, I heard the crunch of another dozen crushed shells. Barnacle steaks, ready to eat as soon as the tide covered them.

Once the tide comes in, with or without my clumsy footsteps, the barnacles are in danger. Whelks drill through their shells and eat them, crabs pry their protective plates off, starfish evert their stomachs over them and digest them even inside their little castles. Flatworms ooze inside to eat them. Even the vegetarian limpets bulldoze the new homes of the youngest barnacles.

It's better out in the sunshine. At least they can sleep in peace!

Barnacles and miniature periwinkles on a rock face. Most of the barnacles have been eaten already.

There's safety in numbers; the odds of being missed are greater. But building sites are hard to come by.

When acorn barnacles are crowded, they grow tall, reaching for open water. And then other barnacles grow on their tips.

Barnacle scars on a stone, all that's left of somebody's dinner. There's enough meat in one of these large ones to interest a gull.

The rock face again. More barnacles and periwinkles.

Zooming in. Barnacle scars, empty barnacle rings, and a few sleeping barnacles.

Billions of barnacles and nary a sign of starfish or whelks. But wait 'till the tide comes in; they'll be there, ready for supper.


2 comments:

  1. Thanks to your blog, I no longer think of barnacles as indestructible. Thanks for sharing your research and findings with us!

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  2. That's part of the barnacles' camouflage. They look solid. Couldn't possibly be full of good meat. The whelks aren't fooled.

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