Balanus nubilus “Giant Acorn Barnacle” Cirripedia (Crustacea)

Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport, OR
June 12, 2015
Robert Niese

B. nubilus is the world’s largest species of barnacle and can grow up to half a foot across and over a foot tall! This species also holds the world record for having the largest individual muscle fibers of any animal! These fibers are regularly used in the study of muscle physiology. Like all barnacles, this species is a filter feeder and prefers to reside in waters that have constant currents or wave action, but will also grow on the hard shells of other animals. The Giant Acorn Barnacle was first described by Charles Darwin in his lesser-known works on Cirripedes from the 1850s, prior to the publication of the Origin of Species. His research on barnacle anatomy and systematics is recognized as one of the most important works in Cirripede science from the past two centuries, and yet, very few people are aware of his contributions to Crustacea.

Pollicipes polymerus “Gooseneck Barnacle” Cirripedia (Crustacea)

Seal Rock State Park, OR
June 11, 2015
Robert Niese

This species of Gooseneck Barnacle is the most common species of intertidal goosenecks in the PNW. In Portugal and Spain, their cousin P. pollicipes, is a common delicacy, but due to over-harvesting and coastline habitat destruction, the PNW now regularly exports this species to Europe. Check out Gordon Ramsey preparing a traditional, tapas-style barnacle recipe here. Also, this species is in direct competition for space and resources with California Mussels (Mytilus californianus) and will out-compete them in the absence of their primary predators, the Ochre Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceous) and the Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens).

Pachycheles rudis “Thick-clawed Porcelain Crab” Decapoda

Fox Island, WA
June 23, 2013
Robert Niese

Porcelain crabs are not actually “true crabs” and are a remarkable example of convergent evolution in the Decopod order. In fact, crab-like forms have evolved so many times within the crustacean clade that evolutionary biologists have given this type of convergent evolution its own name: carcinization. Porcelain crabs are more closely related to hermit crabs and squat lobsters than they are to a typical Cancer crab.

Pentidotea (Idotea) wosnesenskii “Kelp Isopod” Isopoda

Olympic National Park, WA
June 1, 2013
Robert Niese

This is an abundant intertidal crustacean that feasts on algae growing among mussel and barnacle beds throughout northern Pacific rocky coastlines. They range in color from purple to red to brown to green, depending on their current algae diet.