Strange “goose barnacles” that were “hitching a ride” on a huge log washed up on a beach in the UK over the weekend, much to the delight of a local photographer. The creatures may look like something from another planet, but they’re actually a rare delicacy worth thousands of pounds and one of the most expensive food ingredients in the world.
John Jennings, a photographer who often takes to the shore around Bournemouth to snap the local wildlife, is understood to be the first to come across the mysterious object which had washed up close to Boscombe Pier after a bout of stormy weather. He later posted a picture of the “alien-looking” phenomenon on his Instagram, saying it was “a rare gift from the ocean”.
Also known as “percebes”, goose barnacles are said to have a sweet taste - some describe the flavour as a cross between a clam and a lobster. They live far out at sea and are usually only seen when they’re attached to ships or drift onto beaches.
The sea creatures are a delicacy in countries like Spain and Portugal, but have been known to wash up on UK shores after storms, with a walker in Wales making a similar discovery on the Criccieth shoreline in November last year. Goose barnacles feed on plankton and detritus, capturing it from the water with their specially adapted legs.
Hell’s Kitchen star Gordon Ramsay foraged for the barnacles in Portugal on an episode of Gordon Ramsay Uncharted last year. If you’re going out looking for the delicacy, which can sell for up to £80 a kilo, the only way to get it is to pry the barnacles off surf-battered rocks.