Ever wonder how some creatures, like barnacles, mussels and seaweed, manage to survive in the tough tidal ecosystems? You see them, attached to rocks, docks and other incredible places not just surviving but flourishing in some of the most extreme places. Let’s talk a closer look at these cool creatures, and just how they manage to grow in some of the most unlikely places.
These animals are marine crustaceans that become permanently attached to a substrate. Barnacles secrete a naturally occurring cement that creates a limestone shell around themselves. Colonies of barnacles can be found on wharves, boats, pilings and rocky shores.
Although small, barnacles are a really cool animal. During high tides, the barnacles will open their “trap doors” and extend a feathery leg that sweeps the water for microscopic plankton, their favorite food. When the tides recede, the barnacle will close that trap door and retain water inside it’s shell, keeping it moist until the next high tide.
Here's a great article on barnacle glue!
Check out that beard! Blue mussels are a type of mollusk that grow byssal threads, commonly known as a “beard”, that allow the animal to attach themselves to tidal substrate. The beard if made of protein and come from a gland located in the mussel’s foot. The musseles can use their byssal threads like climbing ropes, extending, attaching, and pulling themselves forward in succession, allowing the be rather mobile. Once the mussels reach adulthood, they will often choose one place to call home.
Want to learn more? There is a great big world of marine science to explore! Check out this website for some tips on getting ready for a marine science career.
How We Science is moderated and edited by the staff of the Natural Resources Trust of Easton.