A day at Torrey Pines State Beach

My mother loves Torrey Pines. We go every time she is in town. It’s been a while, though, since we both walked the whole length of the beach, from the lagoon mouth down past the glider port to Blacks Beach.

We made the trek Saturday at a perfect outgoing low tide, ending with a psychedelic sunset. Not to gloat, but it’s late November and we are wearing sunblock and sunglasses and also, admittedly, pants and long-sleeved shirts. But still, I will take it! It beats snow!

neck of gooseneck barnacle

Gooseneck barnacles grow all bunched up on an intertidal rock at Blacks Beach. Credit: S. Johnson

Jim joined us and being a marine ecologist, he was able to point out invertebrate critters that I and probably most of us never notice. The day’s favorite was a white-plated barnacle, known as the gooseneck or goose barnacle.

Check out the photo (right) and you can see how the intertidal crustacean got it nickname. See the one barnacle (lower left-hand corner) with its long stalk extended? Kinda goose-like, although, to me, they look more like a crowd of Stormtroopers.

In any case, once I started searching for these ancient lifeforms, they could be found “everywhere” along one stretch of beach on rocks in the wet sand.

sunset at torrey pines

The sky on fire at sunset at Torrey Pines. Credit: S. Johnson

Interestingly, there was never a single gooseneck barnacle growing alone. The resident expert explained that the species finds “strength in numbers” and that  young barnacles swim, jump and crawl to hunt for adults of their kind before settling down and gluing themselves head-down on hard substrate.

I am guessing they find each other through chemical sensing, but that is just a guess. Mostly, I think it’s all just amazing. Ditto for the fiery sunset (above).

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