Young Barnacles

Barnacle sets. Found on a rock on the rocky glacial shore of Cold Spring Harbor at Sagamore Hill NHS. Barnacles are crustaceans, related to shrimp, crabs, lobsters. Shrimp that have glued their heads onto surfaces and built up walls to stand the siege of low tide…

These strange sedentary — at least as adults — creatures fascinated Charles Darwin. They are hermaphrodites who reproduce thusly: eggs are fertilized by sperm tubes extended from one barnacle to another. (At least one species broadcasts the sperm in the water.) The eggs hatch inside the barnacle and are released as planktonic larvae in winter. The larvae have two stages. The first, called the nauplus, molts multiple times. The second, the cyprid, has the job of finding a substrate. The little dudes float around for six weeks until late winter/early spring, when they start settling out of the water onto any available surface.

Are these Northern Rock (Balanus balanoides) or Little Gray (Chthamalus fragilis), the two types found in Long Island Sound? Someone on iNaturalist voted for the later, which, by the way, were named by Darwin. A saltmarsh bank anchored by Ribbed Mussels (Geukensia demissa). Look closer:Encrusted with little barnacles!

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