Hitchhiking Barnacles and Other Tide Pool Wonders at Harris Beach, Oregon

It’s more tide pool fun at Oregon’s Harris Beach State Park in my travel blog today. Both Peggy and I took the photos.

Four volcano-like barnacles plus mussels at Harris Beach State Park.

Barnacles are a bane to sailors, limpets and anyone else they can hitch a ride with. Latching onto hulls, they seriously interfere with a boat’s efficiency at moving through water and have to be scraped off. Limpets just have to live with their passengers.

Limpets move so slowly that their progress is not impacted by barnacles, but still, I can’t imagine that they are happy to have hitchhikers.
The limpet was one of several that Peggy and I found on a rock. Hermit crabs and other denizens of tide pools love to eat limpets but getting them off rocks can be a considerable challenge. They shoot out the water from under their shells and create a tight, almost unbreakable vacuum. I know. I’ve tried.
Lots of barnacles here. Now, imagine them on the bottom of a boat. There used to be a rather nasty punishment ship captains would use on miscreant sailors called keel-hauling. A rope would be attached to the sailor and he would be dragged under the boat. If barnacles were present, I doubt that much skin would be left. I think I would prefer walking the plank.
Barnacles are joined by mussels and goose neck barnacles in this photo. Goose neck barnacles, the guys with the fingernail looking shells, are considered a delicacy in Portugal and Spain. They were also eaten by the indigenous peoples of California and probably Oregon. Also, note the barnacles attached to the mussel shells.
Turban snails are common along the Pacific Coast. Their empty shells are a favorite home of hermit crabs, which are what you see here, hiking along on their crab legs. As a kid, I used to pry an occasional limpet off of a rock and toss it into a tide pool. The limpets had little appreciation for my boy-enhanced curiosity, but the hermit crabs would come rushing in from far and near for the feast.
Peggy loves a batch of mussels cooked up in salt and garlic water. My dad did as well. He used to gather them fresh off the rocks near where he lived on the Oregon Coast and cook them. He tried to feed them to me. No thanks. I am not a fan of most shellfish. I think the snail seen here shares my wife’s and his taste. It has a specially adapted organ that can drill through the snail’s shell for a tasty meal. Buzz, buzz, slurp, slurp.
Just for fun, who do you think made these tracks across the sand? I’m going for crabs with their small claw feet.
I’ll close today with the sea grass that Peggy and I found growing in abundance between the tide pools. We had expected to find seaweed, not grass. This grass has returned to the ocean from land and adapted to living in saltwater. We found it quite attractive.
Another example. Next Friday I will return to Harris Beach and feature it’s dramatic sea stacks.


Blog a Book Monday… “It’s 4 AM and a Bear Is Standing on Top of Me” : In my last post from the book, I wrote about how I had moved outside in the summer to experience nature up close and personal, a successful venture that was tainted somewhat by the ghosts that lived in the graveyard next door. I ended up hiring the family pets for protection. On Monday I will introduce my top protectors, Pat the Stray Greyhound and Demon the Black Cat.

45 thoughts on “Hitchhiking Barnacles and Other Tide Pool Wonders at Harris Beach, Oregon

  1. Bottom jobs are the worst task in a boatyard, thanks to those barnacles. Quite apart from the damage they can do, the smell is ghastly — at least, once they’re away from the water. Apart from getting cut and scraped by the things, their biggest danger down here is that they open up wounds that are receptive to flesh-eating bacteria. I rarely get cut by one, but I carry bleach and peroxide, just in case.

    I sure do hope that first photo was a macro view. If your barnacles are truly that size, they’re fearsome!

    • I’m sure that you are as close to an expert as I have on this blog when it comes to dealing with barnacles, Linda, and I thought of you as I wrote.
      As for smell, I don’t know about dead barnacles, but I once collected some gorgeous nautilus shells from the Indian Ocean just off the coast from Malindi, Kenya. I had carefully stored them in the trunk/hood of my VW bug. A day later, I don’t think I have ever smelled anything more potent. I happily paid a Kenyan what was likely a week’s wages to clean them! –Curt

  2. I do love your pictures, all of them. Hadn’t heard the expression Hitchhiking Barnacles before. Didn’t think of it during all the years I lived close to them.
    Coming from the granite islands off the west coast of Sweden these sea creatures were a daily sight. I loved all the various muscles which we kid picked to use as bait to fish crabs 🦀. 😊.
    The big trawlers were regularly taken to big dry docks for “prettifying “
    So never felt the smell of barnacles. They are sharp under bare feet though.
    Thank you Curt

    • “Hitchhiking barnacles was my creation, Miriam. A bit poetic, eh. 🙂 I’ll bet you saw a lot. And walking barefoot over them would not be something I would want to do!
      Mussels sound like great crab bait. Now, crab, I like.
      The Granite Islands sound both remote and beautiful.(I looked them up on Google.) It must have been an interesting childhood. –Curt

  3. Your photos make the barnacles look so pretty and harmless! I can say from experience that when we leave our little skiff in the salt water too long we can tell they are there when we go for a ride. Scraping them off is no fun!

    • Everything I’ve read suggests that cleaning barnacles off the bottom of a boat is the opposite of having a good time! Fortunately, it is an experience I have not had. 🙂 –Curt

  4. S.W. Florida boats are frequently stored on lifts to limit the number of barnacles but the poles supporting lifts become covered with them.
    Before today, it never occurred to me that keel hauling was a cross between waterboarding and being skinned alive. 🤢

  5. Beautiful photos, Curt- thanks to you and Peggy! I learned some new names- I will have to take the kiddos to look for goose neck barnacles and turban snails once we get some decent weather and a free day at the same time 😊

  6. This made me want to head to the shore for some mussels, Curt. I love shell fish and as a kid used to go clamming with my toes. But I’ll skip the barnacles. Wonderful photos. Makes me long for the good weather. 😀

  7. I think those generic barnacles are Acorn Barnacles. They’re kind of interesting underwater when they’re feeding. They’ll open their shells a little and stick out a little hand with a fan for fingers and sweep for plankton. The Gooseneck barnacles have kind of rubbery stalk with the hard end your picture shows – sort of like a geoduck in reverse. Those ends can be quite attractive. I remember a batch up in Canada in a strait known for very fast currents. We timed a dive for slack and I saw them, looking of pearl lined with scarlet. The slack didn’t last long…

  8. soooo funny, I would never think they would mind hitch hikers but I guess I liken it to a dog with too many pups to feed. Now that makes sense. I love muscles and clams and well anything with butter. The green grass is always so pretty to me amidst the sand. we have some at the lake and I won’t let my husband cute it. Lots’of fun facts here Curt! 💖

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