Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Gooseneck barnacle (Pollicipes polymerus) is a species of filter-feeding crustacean that lives attached to hard surfaces of rocks and flotsam in the ocean intertidal zone. It is easily recognizable by its distinctive long and muscular stalk, which is edible and is considered a delicacy in several Mediterranean countries.
Because goose barnacles are pelagic, they are most frequently found on tidewrack on oceanic coasts. In Spain they are known as percebes and there is a percebes festival in Galicia (on Spain's Atlantic coast) every summer. Every year people are drowned as they try to collect the delicacy from wave-washed coves. Goose barnacles are generally steamed in their shells above stock or seasoned wine and served hot at the table. The taste is similar to crab claws.
In the days before it was realised that birds migrate, it was thought that Barnacle Geese, Branta bernicla, developed from this crustacean, since they were never seen to nest in temperate Europe, hence the scientific and English names. The confusion was prompted by the similarities in colour and shape. Because they were often found on driftwood, it was assumed that the barnacles were attched to branches before they fell in the water. The Welsh monk Giraldus Cambrensis claimed to have seen goose barnacles in the process of turning into barnacle geese in the twelth century.
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