Beachgoers were shocked to discover an “alien” log washed up on a popular beach in New Zealand last week.
Kylie Morman was left baffled after she came across the large tree log covered in curious shell creatures during a morning walk at Bay of Plenty, on the northern coast of New Zealand’s North Island, on May 7.
She described the 5 metre long find as both “amazing” and “gross”, telling Stuff it had “wormlike tentacles and living creatures in the shells”.
Other beachgoers debated over whether the huge log was covered in edible delicacies known as gooseneck barnacles – and they were right, according to experts.
Wilma Blom, marine invertebrate curator at Auckland Museum, confirmed these were gooseneck barnacles, “probably Lepas anatifera”.
“Yes, they are eaten, particularly by Mediterranean cultures. However, I have never eaten them myself,” she told the publication.
They are commonly known as the ‘pelagic gooseneck barnacle’ or ‘smooth gooseneck barnacle’ and are a species of barnacle in the family Lepadidae.
And the reason they have attached themselves to a log is because they’re often found in large numbers, attached by their flexible stalks to floating timber, the hulls of ships, piers, pilings, seaweed, and various sorts of flotsam, according to iNaturalist Australia.
A department of conversation spokesperson told Stuff they were reasonably common around New Zealand.
“The species is likely to be Lepas anatifera and is different from the type of goose barnacle which is a common delicacy in Portugal and Spain,” the spokesperson said.
It’s not the first time the “alien-like” barnacles have shocked Kiwis.
In 2020, Aucklanders were left mystified when they came across the “strange-looking” creatures at Piha beach.
Barnacles covered a giant piece of driftwood on the in West Auckland beach.
“From afar, we thought it was a whale that had washed up on the shore,” local Hannah Flett told Stuff at the time.
“But when we got closer, we saw these creatures … they all looked very weird.”
She said it looked like they were trying to grab onto something, describing it as “fascinating”.