Focusing on the Details: Thatched Barnacles

Dropping down on a new reach of shore is disorienting enough that it takes a while to shake it off. It’s not unusual to arrive with questions about how and where to proceed. (Most of these, with a bit of planning, can be answered in advance). Once I’m on a new shore, all preparation seems to fly away, leaving me feeling a bit lost at first. And so it was when I dropped, for the first time, down upon this spine of intertidal rocks.

It’s no place for tide pools. But compared to the surrounding shifting sands, rocks are a haven, and intertidal life is plentiful. Much of marine biodiversity—and the intertidal varieties are no different—are compellingly alien, so despite any initial confusion, you almost can’t help but focus on the details after a little acclimation. Playing along with the orientation and acclimation themes, the image below features the higher intertidal zones and higher. In the lower left-hand corner is the upper boundary of the mussel bed. The bed is recognizable as a blackish band fanning out to the right. Large lighter-colored barnacles prevalent in its upper portion and just above are thatched barnacles. Above them, a scattering of smaller acorn barnacles. Higher, above the highest acorn barnacles, the seemingly unoccupied ground gets spray from the sea, the occasional splash, and only a rare dunking. (If you’re imagining along, sand, noticeable in the lower right-hand corner, surrounds the backside of the outcrop; it’s your footing from this vantage. The upper mussel bed is about chest high on a six-foot-tall person.)

Close up in the mussel bed, an alcove appears to have been a place of safety. The thatched barnacles, Semibalanus cariosus, within are large, and their shells are eroded, indicating old age, I imagine, by barnacle standards. There is intimacy here too. It’s a community crowded together. Within and around the barnacle patch are aggregating green anemones, Anthopleura elegantissima. They adorn their exterior surfaces with shell fragments. Looming behind, dark mussels, Mytilus californianus. And now that we’re down to details, I don’t mind mentioning the portion of a dogwinkle shell (you’ll notice the diagonal stripes) down at the bottom right-hand corner. That’s Nucella ostrina. (For fans of Nucella, there is another nestled within the barnacle patch.)

Focusing on the details


  1. Now THAT is what I call details Steve – but then you are always giving us amazing detail about the creatures found along the shore. Amazing as always

    1. The details draw me in for sure. I had just been to the shore so it was fun to be able to show some recent shots! Thank you, Tina. I always appreciate hearing from you.

  2. Wow, Steve. I agree with Tina. Your photos are always amazing. Fabulous details. You have a marvelous photographic eye. As I was reading this, I was thinking you’d like the movie “My Octopus Teacher.” It was nominated for an Oscar this year.

    1. Thank you so much, Patti. And thanks for a great challenge. So very cool of you to mention My Octopus Teacher. And good intuition too. It’s wonderful.

    1. Thank you very much, Donna. That’s a compliment coming from you, you’ve posted so many great photos. By the way, I love the name of your site. (Bet you’ve heard that quite a few times!)

      1. Oh gosh… you humble me. When I started blogging it was a place to help let my impressions land. And to share where we stumble in this beautiful world. I have loved the community I have found here. so part of my blog has become those connections. Thank you so so much.

        The name..yes…a word I made up for my grand kids. I explained it in my bio). It is my hope that someday they stumble across this blog to know…it is for them and to remind them of what was important (to me) in life. Thank you so much. Donna.

        PS. Have just returned the last few months after this crazy past year.

    1. Thank you for taking a look at my post and for your kind words about the photos. I thought maybe I wrote too many words for a photo challenge. I noticed you kept your words more to a minimum. By the way, that’s a very nice post

      1. Its okay if your photo challenge posts are filled up with text. More the description about the photos, more the information you give out to the readers.
        Like this post of yours. I’ve seen barnacles on TV only, though my city Karachi is a coastal city, the presence of barnacles is out of question.

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