Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tideline barnacles

Virtually all rocky seashores in Malta sport millions of these unassuming, pyramidal entities that close or open to feed or reproduce depending on the availability of seawater from tide or waves. They are barnacles mostly belonging to the species Chthamalus stellatus Poli, 1791, though other species of Chthamalus are also present on Maltese shores.

As seen in the photograph above (lower right hand corner and upper centre), dead individuals leave behind calcareous volcano-shaped cavities which may be used as a refuge by other intertidal organisms, such as the amphibious and very interesting snail Melarhaphe neritoides (L., 1758) or even other crustaceans such as amphipods. The photograph was taken at Dwejra, Gozo, during receding tide. On the other hand, the photograph below shows completely dry specimens from Buġibba, waiting for the presence of water to resume any activity.

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