kid looking at Olympic Coast exhibit
A young visitor observes the Olympic Coast exhibit.

Have you ever found a spot so comfortable that you would be content living there forever? Well, prepare to become very jealous of these animals in our new Olympic Coast exhibit, the giant acorn barnacle.

giant acorn barnacles in Olympic Coast exhibit
Giant acorn barnacles in the Olympic Coast exhibit.

These incredible animals, one of more than 1,445 different species of barnacles, possess cement glands that release brown glue to secure them to any hard surface. These invertebrates are able to glue their heads to a surface and remain there for the rest of their life. Not fully convinced that such a small creature could have such a strong ability? Well, this brown glue holds the barnacle in place for so long that they are held there even after the barnacle has died. In fact, the glue can not be dissolved by most acids or alkalis. Because of its strength, scientists are studying this substance to better understand its adhesive properties.

One of the most important survival strategies that the giant acorn barnacle utilize is the production of their limestone shell. This hard shell is fitted to the adult barnacles with a convenient “trap door.” This door comes in handy as the tide moves in and water flows over the barnacle. The creature will then open the plates (or the “trap door”), extend its cirri (feathery legs) and sweep the water for plankton and detritus. Once the tide flows back out, the plates close and contain the moisture until the tide cycle begins again. That’s pretty incredible!

Giant Acorn Barnacles

These little guys can be found on the third level of the Aquarium in the Olympic Coast exhibit. Just take a peak at the bottom of the exhibit tank and find our barnacles stuck in their place on hard rock surfaces. Our friends are kept company by our huge and truly incredible octopus and other creatures! A truly fascinating community in just one exhibit.