Biodiversity & Conservation

A goose barnacle - Pollicipes pollicipes

Pollicipes pollicipes

Image Keith Hiscock - Pollicipes pollicipes attached to rocky shore near Tator Du Lighthouse, Cornwall. Image width ca 5 cm.
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Distribution map

Pollicipes pollicipes recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

Why do the maps differ?

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  • UK_BAP

Taxonomy icon Taxonomy Taxon English term
Phylum Arthropoda Arthropods, joint-legged animals, e.g. insects, crustaceans & spiders
Class Maxillopoda Barnacles, copepods and fish lice
Authority (Gmelin, 1789)
Recent synonyms Pollicipes cornucopia
Mitella pollicipes
Map icon Recorded Distribution in Britain and Ireland Although found predominantly further south, Pollicipes pollicipes does extend its geographical range as far north as the south-west British Isles and possibly south-west Ireland.
Habitat information icon Habitat information Pollicipes pollicipes can be found in groups attached to rocks on exposed rocky shores and cliffs. They have also been known to occur on the hulls of wrecked ships, various wooden structures and driftwood.
Text page icon Description Pedunculate, goose or goose-neck barnacles have a flexible, muscular stalk, known as the peduncle, which supports the main body known as the capitulum. In Pollicipes pollicipes the capitulum is triangular in nature and white-grey in colour. A number of plates of different sizes protect the capitulum, increasing to over 100 in number with age. The plates may reach up to 0.5 mm in length. Six pairs of thin, feather-like cirri can be seen to arise from within the mantle cavity and are used for feeding. The peduncle may reach over 10 cm in length and is strongly attached to the substratum to withstand repeated battering in wave exposed conditions.
Identifying features
  • Flexible muscular stalk (peduncle) firmly attached to the substratum.
  • Body (capitulum) covered in many white-grey plates of different sizes.
  • Adult peduncles may reach over 10 cm in length.
Additional information icon Additional information Pollicipes pollicipes may be host to other juveniles of the species, or even adults of other barnacles, which may settle on the peduncle or capitulum of the adult Pollicipes pollicipes.

This review can be cited as follows:

Morvan Barnes 2009. Pollicipes pollicipes. A goose barnacle. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 01/12/2015]. Available from: <>