Re: What kind of animal is this?

August 19, 2006
From: Patrizia Schiozzi

Concerning message #17489:

You could be right, but then something very strange must have happened. In fact there were thousands of these animals on the beach. The 'spongy' thing in the middle was exactly the same in all the animals. It looked a bit like a kind of 'placenta' (I know this must sound nonsense...) where all the shellanimals were connected to.

Do you know another forum where I could ask my question?

Kind regards,

Schiozzi, P.G., 2006 (Aug 19) Re: What kind of animal is this?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Patrizia,
Firstly you are right not to believe everything you find on the world wide web, but the Sea Slug Forum is a publication of the Australian Museum, so I hope it is credible. If you want to check my credibility,  my advice would be for you to use a search engine like Google and search for goose barnacle. I just did  and got lots of pictures which match your animals, which suggests I could be right. Or you could always go to a library and look in a reference book. I am afraid there are very few forums like the Sea Slug Forum and I certainly don't know one on crustaceans ... and even if there were, you would still have the dilemma of  having to decide which forum you are going to believe.

This is one of the problems of the web - it certainly makes information more available, but it also makes misinformation just as easily available. I guess the greatest absurdity is the online encyclopedia Wikipedia which allows anyone to edit entries. This seems to be taking us back to the Dark Ages where geese were supposed to develop from goose barnacles - because that's what people told each other! The medieval village square and Wikipedia have much in common.

The identity of the white bit in the middle of your photo is really immaterial, as goose barnacles attach to any floating object, including ship's hulls. Sometimes you will find large areas of water covered in small floating blocks of volcanic pumice, all with goose barnacles attached. I once came across thousands of apples washed up on a beach - apparently washed off a ship during a storm - and they were also covered in goose barnacles. The apples were quite edible after I pulled off the barnacles.

I have no idea what the white things are, but for some reason they were all floating together in the sea. They obviously crossed paths with a 'swarm' of free-swimming goose barnacle larvae, which settled on the white things and grew to the size you found them. Unfortunately for the barnacles, a storm has stranded the 'white things', and their cargo, on the shore.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2006 (Aug 19). Comment on Re: What kind of animal is this? by Patrizia Schiozzi. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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