|Thatched acorn barnacles*; one small patch.|
I felt guilty, walking across this beach: crunch, crunch: at every step I could hear breaking shells. I tried to find spots with no barnacles to put my feet down, but there were few.
At one point, I turned and examined the barnacle I had just stepped on. There it stood, undisturbed, solid as ever. How strong are those shells? I think, possibly, the crunches I heard were dead, empty shells; they seem easy to break, from the right angle. More experiments are needed.
|Stone formation, with barnacles, oysters, gull and more.|
Farther down the beach, below the erratic, a few slabs of stone stood like a fence against the waves. Here, I found more barnacles, and a scattering of oysters, each one firmly cemented to the rock. The dark green stuff is rockweed.
|More than meets the eye.|
All across this plain, and crammed into every niche in the rocks, tiny critters go about their business, dwarfed by the barnacles. Looking closely, I found hundreds of pinhead snails. (But when I brought a handful home, most of them contained miniature orange-legged hermit crabs.) In the photo above, only one hermit crab is identifiable, but most of the blue-black snails are probably hermits, too. In the lower third, left of centre, a yellow patch is made up of whelk egg cases. And here and there, limpets try to blend into the rock.
|Empty barnacle shell and black rock algae.|
I brought home a few barnacles to clean my tank and feed my barnacle-loving snails. Checking them over before I added them to the aquarium, I found several healthy flatworms. No matter how strong a barnacle shell may be, these worms can slither through the cracks between plates, kill and eat the barnacle inside. Some flatworms may even eat the oysters.
*Barnacles may be hard to identify, but the thatched acorn has a black feeding foot. The barnacles that came home with me all have black cirri.