Gooseneck barnacle

Pollicipes pollicipes


Gooseneck barnacle (Pollicipes pollicipes) © Keith Hiscock

Gooseneck barnacles live on rocky shores, to which they attach by means of a strong, flexible stalk (called a peduncle).  The stalk may be 10cm or more in length and is strong enough to ensure that the gooseneck barnacle stays firmly fixed in place, even with a constant battering from the waves.  Gooseneck barnacles also attach to the hulls of ships, pieces of driftwood, and other floating debris.

A gooseneck barnacle can itself become a home for other animals, including young gooseneck barnacles or adult acorn barnacles (the common, cone-shaped barnacles found on many British shores).

The main body of the gooseneck barnacle is at the end of the stalk, and it is protected by a series of white or grey triangular plates of different sizes.  The number of plates grows as the animal ages, and can reach more than 100 in total.

Gooseneck barnacles feed when they are underwater, extending feathery feeding tentacles to gather particles of food.


Other common names

Goose barnacle


European distribution

The coasts of south-west England and south-west Ireland mark the northern most boundary of the gooseneck barnacle’s range, as it is mostly found in warmer waters off France, Spain and Portugal.


Conservation status/need

  • Gooseneck Barnacle FactThis is a UK BAP Priority Species (BAP species are now Species of Principal Importance/Priority Species).
  • Species of principal importance for the purpose of conservation of biodiversity under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006


Further information

Marine Life Information Network

World Register of Marine Species

JNCC - UK BAP Priority Species and Habitats