San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias - Marine Invertebrates

Barnacles are crustaceans, related to crabs, shrimp, and lobsters. There are more than 1,000 species of barnacles in habitats as deep as 4,000 meters and as shallow as intertidal zones.

Many species are very selective about the spot they settle; some attach only to humpback whales. You may read more about them in our Ocean Oasis website.

For the purpose of research, barnacles are preserved either as dried samples or in ethyl alcohol. To study the soft tissues of these and most other marine invertebrates, researchers must have fluid-preserved specimens.

[Rabbit Eared barnacles attached to Coronula , from the SDNHM Marine Invertebrate collection][Rabbit Eared barnacles from SDNHM Marine Invertebrate collection][Close-up of rabbit eared barnacle]
Large jar with fluid-preserved specimens; includes two specimens, the sessile barnacles (Coronula) that were attached to the humpback whale, and Conchoderma auritum (rabbit-eared barnacles) growing on top of the sessile barnacle.

[Coronula regina and Coronula diadema][Close-up of Coronula reginae]
Above left, Coronula regina and Coronula diadema. Close-up on right of Coronula reginae.

[Grouping of Chelonibia testudinaria Linn. (turtle barnacles)][Close-up of Chelonibia testudinaria]
Left, grouping of Chelonibia testudinaria Linn. (turtle barnacles) collected in Bahia de Los Angeles B.C. in 1963 from the carapace of a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). Right, close up of one Chelonibia testudinaria.

[Balanus trigonus on shell][Balanus nubilis attached to Crassadoma gigantea]
Left, Balanus trigonus on shell.
Right, Balanus nubilis (giant acorn barnacle) attached to Crassadoma gigantea (rock scallop).

[Tetraclita rubescens]
Tetraclita rubescens (acorn barnacles) collected from San Pedro breakwater in San Francisco, 1941.

To understand how we preserve and care for our research specimens, check out Caring for Collections.