Occasionally you’ll come across driftwood covered in waving stalks, each terminating in what looks like a soft shell with tentacles emerging. If you’re not a fan of horror movies it may be very unnerving. He aha tērā? What is that?
Photo by Miraz Jordan. Used with permission.
Answer: it’s a werewere, gooseneck barnacle:
This barnacle has a fleshy purpleish-brown narrow stalk with only 5 plates. The opening of this barnacle is lined with beautiful scarlet tissue. The heart-shaped shell, or ‘capitulum’, is a chalky-white in colour and has black lines, which were thought to resemble the head of the barnacle goose Branta leucopsis.
Attaches to floating objects such as driftwood, glass, or plastic and often found washed up on the beach.