Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Saving stalked barnacles fixed to a plank

While researching a book about Charles Darwin, I learned of his fascination with barnacles -- in fact, Darwin went on to write two books about this subject alone.

After heavy seas, a few days ago, a plank washed ashore on 'our' beach. It was covered with a colony of stalked barnacles. While photographing them, I noticed movement and realised they were still alive; so Doug carried the plank down to the water's edge and tossed it back into the waves.

These crustaceans attach themselves to hard surfaces such as planks, jetty pylons or rocks. They feed using feathery legs that filter the plankton and other fine food particles from the ocean. Stalked barnacles protect their bodies with a number of hard plates.

Seeing the plank floating out into Western Port Bay -- on a strong current -- gave me a thrill. We'd saved colony of stalked barnacles.

A Pacific gull took advantage of easy food as the plank floated in shallow water.

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