Monday, August 9, 2010


Pulled up a loose board from one of our groins that was about to tear away. Once it was out of the water, I discovered a cluster of barnacles that had attached themselves firmly to the wood. I was taken with the circular symmetry of these crusty shell-like crustateans that eat plankton. Once I discovered what they were and what they ate, I had an AAAHAA moment. I've been involved in a NOAA study collecting water samples from around my dock and then analyzing the water under a microscope trying to identify Phytoplankton. The study is looking for Phytoplankton that can be harmful to the waters, causing toxic alga blooms that can be harmful to humans and/or degrade ecosystems by forming large blooms. I've been pretty discouraged, since most of my samples have turned up not one Phytoplankton of any type--good or bad. There are other little creatures in the water, but I've found nothing that the study would be interested in.

 So, I inspected all the groins (we have three) and all of our pilings and found that barnacles were growing on all of them. Maybe its not the fact that I'm doing something wrong or am missing these little creatures under the microscope. Maybe, the barnacles have eaten them before I can find them! I'm feeling a little less like a failure.

Barnacle encrusted board

Groins are projections that usually run perpendicular to the shore into the water. They act as breaks to the water and their main purpose is to collect sand, helping to replenish in winter what the summer tides have washed away. 

Isn't nature amazing!


  1. Great photos! Who would think barnacles could look so pretty. I love the pattern look.

  2. How strange that they should be called groins -of all things. I think they are called wave breakers in England's English.

    I love barnacles -berniques in French but would never have thought of looking in a microscope...

  3. The barnacles would make a pretty necklace.

    So you're saying then, nature is creating it's own balance? Lovely.

  4. I like the barnacle "installation". I've seen those structures but didn't know what they're called. I really appreciate it when folks make an effort like this.

  5. Its, its, its. Save me from apostrophies. But then, groin doesn't sound right, either.

  6. Those barnacles look beautiful and interesting; it looks like a lace. Both photos are beautiful especially when are enlarged.


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