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Pollicipes polymerus

(Goose Neck Barnacle)


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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in English:

Goose Neck Barnacle, Gooseneck Barnacle, Leaf Barnacle

Common Names in German:

Entenmuschel, Blättrige Entenmuschel


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Physical Description

Species Pollicipes polymerus

The body of this organism is up to 8 cm long. The capitulum is protected by five large, whitish plates and several smaller ones which lie in basal whorls. The carina lacks spines, and the tough, fleshy peduncle allows for elasticity to the force of the surface. The color is dark brown and contains many calcareous spicules embedded in its surface. [1]


Prefers open, surf-swept coastlines. It has also been reported to occur on other barnacles on the skin of Humpback Whales . Depth Range : M. polymerus occurs in the high to middle intertidal zones. [1]


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Feeds by growing outward so that it can extend its cirri in a fan oriented perpendicular to the backwash of the waves. Small particles of detritus and tiny crustaceans get caught in the cirri, which are subsequently eaten.[1]


In the Puget Sound , Goose Neck barnacles breed from April to October, peaking in July. Individuals are hermaphroditic , but will always cross-fertilize. Each sexually mature individual may produce up to four broods per year, with up to 20,000 developed young per brood. The young aggregate at the base of the adults , where their survival rate increases. Within one month they are able to attain independence . [1]


Predators of M. polymerus include the ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus) and the Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens). M. polymerus directly competes with the California Mussel (Mytilus californianus) and can often out-compete them. M. polymerus often grows in tight bunches (rosettes) which make them more resistant to predation .[1]


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Mitella polymerus


Name Status: Accepted Name .

Last scrutiny: 27-Dec-2004

Similar Species

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There is a pelagic goose barnacle, Lepas anatifera, frequently found in the Pacific Northwest that looks somewhat similar to M. polymerus, however is has fewer plates and only occurs in the open sea and on driftwood washed ashore. There is a closely related European species, Pollicipes pollicipes, which is cooked and served as a delicacy. However, it is now in short supply and M. polymerus has been exported from British Columbia to Portugal and Spain. (Ref. 109953)

Members of the genus Pollicipes

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 1 species and subspecies in this genus:

P. polymerus (Goose Neck Barnacle)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal February 29, 2008:



  1. Cowles, Dave. Key to Invertebrates Found At or Near The Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory (a campus of Walla Walla University) Fidalgo Island, Anacortes, WA May 2009. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-02-06