Goose barnacles, Lepas anatifera, commonly known as the pelagic gooseneck barnacle or smooth gooseneck barnacle, a species of barnacle in the family Lepadidae. Often found in large numbers, attached by their flexible stalks to floating timber, the hulls of ships, piers, pilings & seaweed, here seen attached to flotsam at Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, UK.
In Portugal and Spain, a variety of the crustacea is the widely consumed and expensive delicacy known as percebes. Percebes which are harvested commercially in the northern coast, mainly in Galicia and Asturias, are also imported from Morocco and Canada. The indigenous peoples of California eat the stem after cooking it in hot ashes. Historically, in Cornwall, UK, if a boat arrived with clusters of barnacles attached to the hull, they were scrapped off and sold for food
The heart-shaped shell, or ‘capitulum’, is a chalky-white in colour and has black lines, which were thought to resemble the head of the barnacle goose Branta leucopsis. Because barnacle geese rarely nest in Britain no-one had ever seen their eggs or nests. It was supposed, therefore, that the geese ‘grew up on the planks of ships’ and the birds finally emerged clothed in feathers and flew away. This curious theory also provided a convenient way round the church’s ban on eating meat or flesh on Fridays. As the barnacle goose was obviously “not born of the flesh” but from a barnacle, they could be eaten not just on Fridays but throughout Lent.
Order Pedunculata, Family Lepatidae, Genus Lepas