How to Distinguish from Similar Species: Pollicipes polymerus, the other goosneck barnacle commonly found intertidally here in the Pacific Northwest, , has more than 10 plates in the capitulum and attaches to rocks. Lepas pacifica has a notch on the side of the capitulum that borders the scutum. Lepas hilli has smooth plates and 3 or more filamentous growths from the base of the first cirri.
Geographical Range: Cosmopolitan in the open sea (pelagic), especially in warm water. Often found attached to pelagic debris washed up on the beach on the open coast; on our shores not usually washed up south of Point Conception, CA.
Depth Range: Shallow pelagic, usually within a meter of the surface attached to a floating object.
Habitat: Pelagic, attached to floating wood and debris. Barreiros and Teves (2005) report finding a cluster of this species growing inside the mouth of a stranded Mola mola sunfish found in the Azores of the Atlantic, attached to its esophagus, and Magni et al. (2015) report L. anatifera attached to the clothing and shoes of a stranded corpse near Italy.
Biology/Natural History: This seems to be the most common pelagic gooseneck barnacle along the Washington coast. The opening of this barnacle is lined with beautiful scarlet tissue. The peduncle (stalk) is purplish-brown. Reaches sexual maturity when the capitulum is about 2.5 cm across. Fertilization is internal. Young are brooded in a mass attached to the mantle wall. Nauplii are released after about a week.
Mesaglio et al., (2021) studied this and several other species of Lepas in fouling communities off eastern Australia. They found that community diversity increases with time, that the δ18O content of the capitulum plates of L. anatifera and L. anserifera are a good proxy for seawater temperature (over a range of about 21.7 to 22.7 degrees), and that in these warm temperatures L. anserifera can grow between 1 and 1.5 mm capitulum length per day.
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Magni, Paola A., Cynthia Venn, Isabella Aquila, Francesco Pepe, Pietrantonio Ricci, Ciro de Nunzio, Francesca Ausania, and Ian R. Dadour, 2015. Evaluation of the floating time of a corpse found in a marine environment using the barnacle Lepas anatifera L. (Crustacea: Cirripedia: Pedunculata). Forensic Science International FSI-7818. 5 pages.
Mesaglio, Thomas P., Hayden T. Schilling, Lewis Adler, Shane T. Ahyong, Ben Maslen, and Ian M. Suthers, 2021. The ecology of Lepas-based biofouling communities on moored and drifting objects, with applications for marine forensic science. Marine Biology 168, article 21. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-021-03822-1
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General Notes and Observations: Locations, abundances, unusual behaviors:
This species can grow up to a very large size (The above specimen had stalks of up to 20 cm long).
Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2005): Created original page