Pelagic barnacles are often attached to driftwood or floating seaweed, but this time Eric spotted some growing on a different object. Can you tell what it is?
Here's a slightly different angle:
And another showing the opposite side with a larger cluster of barnacles:
Did you guess what the barnacles were attached to?
Warning: The next picture will give it away.
Yes! These pelagic barnacles were growing on a feather!
When examined closely, Eric noticed a newly settled barnacle larva, called a cyprid, attached to the feather, too (see below). You can see it just off to the left of the large cluster of feeding barnacles.
Below is a close-up of the cyprid:
Although I haven't photographed a cyprid on a feather before, I shared some nice images and an explanation about pelagic barnacle cyprids in 2012.
After Eric spotted the first feather-with-barnacles, I wondered how many we had passed by. Although we were near the end of our walk, I found one more:
After discovering them, we had lots of questions. For example — Do the barnacles prefer a certain region of the feather? If so, why? Do some types of feathers make better floating rafts than others? How many barnacles would it take to sink a feather?