‘Alien’ beach creatures identified

2011-11-15 07:09

Alien-like sea creatures that have washed ashore on beaches across Cape Town have been identified as a rare barnacles.

Beach walkers around the city have been flummoxed in the past weeks about the identity of the creatures, which have slimy tentacles with shells on the end.

“I’ve been walking on this beach for 35 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” an elderly man from the suburb of Kommetjie said as he prodded one of the barnacles with a piece of drift wood.

Marine biologist Charles Griffiths told the Cape Times newspaper today that the creatures were known as buoy barnacles and that their appearance in Western Cape waters was a “once in a lifetime” event.

Griffiths, who is the director of marine biology research at the University of Cape Town, has spent 30 years studying and teaching marine biology in Cape Town.

This is the first time he has come across buoy barnacles, which have washed up on beaches in their thousands in Hout Bay, Muizenberg, Hermanus, False Bay, Noordhoek and Camps Bay.

“This bloom of buoy barnacles is just massive,” Griffiths said. The buoy barnacle is the only species of barnacle with the ability to float on its own.

Mature barnacles secrete their own gas-filled flotation devices instead of attaching to flotsam.

“The immature barnacles cling to the flotation ball on a mature barnacle like ornaments on a Christmas tree. They are a very interesting species,” Griffiths told the newspaper.

Griffiths said the influx might just be random. “It’s difficult to be conclusive about a one-off event like this,” he said.

Ken Moore, a specialist marine guide from Hermanus, told the Cape Times that tourists had been struck by the curious looking barnacles during whale-watching tours.

“I have worked in Walker Bay every day for 11 years and this is the first time I’ve seen these floating,” he said.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.