14 Reasons to hate barnacles


December 15, 2016

14 Reasons to Hate Barnacles: 

Barnacles. A destructive nuisance that have haunted boat owners for centuries and are at least partially responsible for the invention of anti-foul. There are countless reasons to hate barnacles, and here, we are going to name just a few.

  1. Trypnophobia, by definition, is a proposed phobia (intense, irrational fear) of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps, and a particular trigger for crippling sufferers are the disgusting barnacles they might see in marine environments. We can all agree that barnacles aren’t overly easy on the eye, but for some the sheer sight can make them intensely uncomfortable.
  1. The cyprid larva is the last larval stage before barnacles develop into adulthood. These larvae have an enhanced ability in which they can locate other adult barnacles and suitable surfaces to latch on to using chemical and touch sensors. A pretty advanced technology for a simple arthropod. So, it seems these crusty adolescent critters are the maestros when it comes to teaming up with their established elders accumulating to form an army of pesky barnacles.
  1. They’re barnacles…
  1. If it wasn’t bad enough that barnacles are such tenacious pests which exist in huge communities, once they are ready to reproduce there will be a gargantuan number of spawning young eager to develop - A single adult barnacle can release over 10,000 larvae!
  1. It is estimated that there are in excess of 4,000 known fouling species that can colonise onto submerged marine surfaces, and the mightiest member of the fouling family also has a massive variation of closely related boat loving lodgers. To date, there are over 1,220 species of barnacle currently identified. Boat owners have a burning hatred for every single one.
  1. There are very few people who have an affection for barnacles, including the great Charles Darwin. In fact, in his very own vented words: “I hate a barnacle as no man ever did before, not even a Sailor in a slow-moving ship.” The legendary naturalist and geologist spent seven years of his life working up the first encyclopaedic monograph on barnacles, which latched onto a tender place of his heart. Being the foremost leading authority of barnacles, if a man who has such an in depth and respected knowledge of animals across the globe vows to a distasteful opinion of them, then we will take his word as gospel.
  1. Barnacles…it doesn’t even sound nice.
  1. We all want to zoom through the water, but barnacles are the unwanted speed police niggling you to slow down. As is the case with any of the many species of fouling, one of the most teeth-gritting issues for boat owners which barnacles are responsible for, is the dramatic detrimental effect they have on boat speed. Even light fouling (slime and other micro-fouling species) can reduce your speed by 5-10%. In relation to racing yachts which depend heavily on achieving their optimum speed, even a minor amount of drag resistance due to barnacle fouling can have a significant slowing effect. While losing 0.2 knots won’t matter much to a cruising yacht, for a racing boat it can make a half hour difference on a 100-mile race. They really ‘keel’ your speed…
  1. An obvious reason to have a general dislike for barnacles is their unsightly appearance, both as a collective hypnotizing landscape and as a single eye-sore of a crustacean. A sparkling new boat with the most beautiful hull, propellers and accessories can become plagued with fouling species and barnacles after just a few weeks of them being exposed to the murky submerged waters. It’s nature’s own graffitiing yob, determined to tag your prized vessel. They make a hull of a mess…
  1. Erm… Barnacles.
  1. The navy employs some monstrous and astounding boat models for their services. There are some behemoth destroyers and aircraft carriers which exceed 1090-feet and weigh over 100,000-tonnes, and so you can imagine that creates quite the surface area for barnacles to settle on with a densely-populated neighbourhood. That being said, the U.S Naval academy has estimated that biofouling creates enough hull-drag to increase the Navy's petroleum bill by about $250 million every year. In a similar fashion, a rather alarming report from the shipping industry reported that hull fouling costs an extra $30 billion per year based on a fuel price of $500/tonne. Quite the price tag for some of the world’s most important marine services.
  1. A barnacle’s penis can reach up to fifty times the length of its body meaning that it has the biggest penis in relation to body size of any in the whole animal kingdom! Additionally, barnacles can change the shape of their penises to suit the environment they are in. An evolutionary trait which may just boost their ego among the marine wild life…
  1. The sticking mechanism used by barnacles to attach so stubbornly to marine surfaces is testament to their cement excretion which is renowned as “natures strongest glue”. Still far better than anything humans have developed synthetically; barnacle glue can stick to any surface under any conditions, as boat owners know all too well. The barnacles release an oily droplet which clears away the water on surfaces before secreting the cement from their glands, a mechanism of action recently discovered which has baffled researchers on how exactly the bio-adhesive works for an age. Clever little buggers!
  1. And finally, the worst thing about these anthropic adversaries is simply that they are so damn shellfish!...


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