Not all barnacles look like this. And this barnacle isn't one you're likely to encounter very often. Meet Chelonibia testudinaria. If you're familiar with Greek and Latin, by looking at the scientific name you'll be able to tell where this species of barnacle lives — they grow on sea turtles!
So why am I showing a turtle barnacle tonight? Well, it's a long story. I didn't find it locally — the one in this picture is from Massachusetts. But it would be possible to find Chelonibia here, although it would be rare. During the last few days I haven't been able to get out in the field much, and I've been feeling nostalgic. I'm usually in New England for the holidays, and unfortunately, I can't be there this year.
And not long ago I read in The New York Times about the record number of sea turtles strandings on Cape Cod this year. Before I started working in California, I helped out with those strandings, so I've been thinking about sea turtles and turtle barnacles.
Although sea turtle strandings are much rarer in northern California, they do occur — I showed one on 18 September 2013, and a green turtle was caught off San Francisco this year. So here are a few sea turtle photos. They're all from New England. These individuals were cold-stunned, washed up on beaches, and then were transferred to the New England Aquarium in Boston for rehabilitation.
Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Kemp's Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)
To read more about the 2014 Cape Cod sea turtle strandings, click here.
P.S. I hope you enjoyed the Solstice!