The Wild, Weird Phenomenon of Talking Barnacles on Oregon Coast

Published 08/20/2015 at 6:04 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff


(Oregon Coast) – One wacky little surprise that possibly awaits you on the Oregon coast is the wild sound of “talking barnacles.” More correctly, it's a faint grinding noise they make; and if you encounter a lot of them doing it, it may sound like they're all chattering among themselves.

Oregon coast tide pools are always full of trippy new discoveries, but this will likely be a memorable one. It's barely audible, but it's described as a grinding or clicking noise. Mostly made by what are called acorn barnacles, they can be made by volcano barnacles as well.

The noise comes from the tiny creatures moving around inside their shells. Keith Chandler, manager of Seaside Aquarium, said the acorn barnacle has two shells that it lives inside. You can see them squirming around in there.

“It happens when they twist around inside their shells,” Chandler said. “When something disturbs them. If something pokes your eye, you're going to move your head around.”

It doesn't take much to disturb them, either. Acorn barnacles will clam up and dart into their shells when even just a shadow passes over them. So it's possible even just moving around a tide pool area freaks them out and causes them to get nervous.

“They feed on plankton when the tide is high,” Chandler said. “When the tide is low, they close up. They stick their little fan thingy out to grab the plankton. They're really fun to watch.”

Part of the interest here is that they reach out and grab stuff with that feathery appendage, then plopping it in the barnacle's mouth.

You can see the acorn barnacles at the Seaside Aquarium, although they are underwater and not poking out of a tide pool – so you won't be able to hear them at the facility. Even so, it's more common to be able to hear that odd grinding noise while they're still under the thin layer of sea water you find at a tide pool. Those in the air will likely be closed up.

At the aquarium, Chandler said they are fed brine shrimp, although they normally eat plankton in the wild.

“We don't really have a lot of plankton, but brine shrimp is like a plankton,” Chandler said.

The acorn barnacle's scientific name is Balanus glandula, and they're extremely common to the Oregon coast and indeed the entire U.S. and Canadian shorelines. They are crustaceans, which makes them more closely related to the crab and or lobster.

Inside the two shells lives a tiny arthropod (meaning jointed-legged), existing at an odd angle there where the forehead of the creature is what is sticking to the inner shell. That feathery part is essentially the legs of the barnacle.

Those legs actually bring in the oxygen to the creature as well, acting like gills, in a sense.

The Seaside Aquarium is on the Prom in Seaside, Oregon. 503-738-6211. More Oregon Coast Science. More barnacles and Oregon coast tide pools below. Also see the Complete Guide to all Oregon coast tide pools.

Above: photo by Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium - a barnacle growing on a whale.

Above: photo by Terry Morse - the "tsunami dock" in Newport in 2012 showed up with barnacles on it.



More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, sautéed scallops.
Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss
Pacific City, Oregon

 


Breathtaking high panoramic beach views from oceanfront rooms, spacious family suites & fully equipped cottages.  Known for gracious hospitality, the sparkling clean Sea Horse features a heated indoor pool, dramatic oceanfront spa, great whale watching, free deluxe continental breakfast, conference room, free casino shuttle & HBO.  Fireplaces, private decks and spas are available in select rooms.  Close to shops, golf, fishing & restaurants.  Pets are welcome in select rooms.  Senior discounts.  Kids 18 and under stay free in their parent's room.  Very attractive rates.
Lincoln City’s only resort hotel built right on the beach with all oceanfront rooms - nestled against a rugged cliffside overlooking a soft, sandy beach. Dine in penthouse restaurant and bar, for casual meal or candlelight dinner. An array of seafood specialties, juicy steaks and other Northwest favorites, including decadent Sunday buffet. Rooms range from bedrooms to studios to 1-bedroom suites with microwaves and refrigerators to full kitchens. Also, wi-fi, spa, saunas, exercise room and year-round heated swimming pool. Kids will love the game room and easy beach access. Full-service conference/meeting rooms for that inspirational retreat; extensive wedding possibilities.

 


Coastal Spotlight

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

180 Miles of Oregon Coast Spring Break: What You Don't Know Will Thrill You
There's a lot they won't tell you about Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, Garibaldi, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats
Newport Seafood and Wine Festival 2019, Oregon Coast, News, Updates, Transpor...
What's the latest on lodging availability, dates, cost, transportation and more at the Newport Seafood and Wine Festival
A Tale of Two Oregon Coast Chasms: Bizarre Hidden Spots and Famous Landmarks
A bundle of hidden gems and wonders near Yachats, themselves containing other wonders
How Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock Was Created: Fiery Oregon Coast Tale
A geologic story of fire and lava flows with strength beyond imagining. Geology
N. Oregon Coast History Event; Trail Closure
Great news for history buffs in Seaside but bad news for hikers of Fort Stevens. Seaside events
Depoe Bay and Newport Preview: Central Oregon Coast Events of Spring
Music, food and even wine pop like flowers blooming with the season. Newport events
Livin' Large on Oregon Coast: Crab Feast and Hotel Anniversary
Two parts of the Oregon coast celebrate in grand style this month. Newport events, Pacific City lodging specials
Freaky, Funky Sights You Can See in Oregon Coast Skies
Green Flash at Sunset, the weird double-headed sunset, moon halos and sun dogs

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted

 

 

Oregon Coast Lodging
Rentals
Specials

Dining

Events Calendar

Oregon Coast Weather

Travel News

Search for Oregon Coast Subjects, Articles

Virtual Tours, Maps
Deep Details