Barnacle-covered driftwood attracts crowds at Towan

CROWDS gathered on Towan Beach, Newquay, on Friday after a mystery ‘creature’ was washed ashore.

The 20ft-long barnacle-covered object sparked a widespread debate among the onlookers who gathered to take a closer look.

Matt Slater, of nearby Blue Reef Aquarium was quick to inform everyone exactly what it was.

He said: “It was huge – probably about six tonnes of driftwood that was covered in goose barnacles.”

Otherwise known as Lepas anatifera, the barnacles had attached in their hundreds of thousands – which indicated the wood had been in the sea for a very long time.

Once attached, the barnacles grow by feeding on plankton in the sea – but can’t detach themselves from the object they are clinging to.

“It would probably take between five to ten years for the barnacles to get to that size on the driftwood that washed up in Newquay,” said Mr Slater who described it as a “spectacular sight”.

“It would be nice to know where it came from, as the barnacles live in warmer waters. Maybe this came from the tropical Atlantic Ocean – meaning it’s travelled really far to end up here,” he said.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen to it, but one thing is for sure – it can’t go back into the sea.

“That size and weight of wood would do some really bad damage to a boat if it collided with it.”

The goose barnacle is found in most oceans worldwide, except very cold, Arctic regions.

Discussions are continuing over what to do with the object.

** Archived October 2011 **

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