Who's hungry for barnacles?

Gooseneck barnacles, Pollicipes polymerus, are crustaceans that form dense colonies on rocks and other firm surfaces. The feathery appendages that comb through the water for food are actually modified feet, called cirri. Gooseneck barnacles may live for 20 years or so, if not hurt by oil spills or other pollution, or eaten by gulls, snails—or humans.

Yes, you read that correctly. Indigenous people have long eaten the bright red flesh of the “stalk” (which is reported to taste like lobster), but only in the last few decades have these crustaceans become a popular delicacy in restaurants, especially in Spain and Portugal, where the demand has apparently fostered over-harvesting and poaching.

Come see barnacles in action at the Seattle Aquarium (sorry, no sampling allowed!).

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