The “fascinating” mound of wiggling sea creatures stunned locals after washing up on a Sydney beach, leaving many puzzled and some pondering the possibility of a “sinister” theory about their death.
Vicki Hansen told Yahoo News Australia that she was walking her dog on Greenhills Beach in the Sutherland Shire on a Saturday morning when she noticed the clam-like creatures and compared the scene to one from the Netflix show Stranger Things.
“I was surprised, but so many unusual things have been washing up on the beach lately,” she explained. “I saw that it was yet another thing that the ocean had carried to the shore.”
“However, I’ve never seen anything like these.”
Ms Hansen’s videos and photos show thousands of floating shells writhing around an extended log by clear ‘tentacles.’
“I saw many hanging limply, but as I bent down to study them, I noticed that some of them were moving, almost like a slow dance,” the videographer explained.
“I figured the limp ones had died from being removed from the sea, and the ones that were moving were probably doing their final ‘death dance.'”
“It was surreal, strange, and beautiful all at once.”
Another person hoped that “the next high tide will take these little guys straight back out to sea.”
Many people immediately claimed that the creatures were goose barnacles, which are considered a delicacy in countries such as Spain and Portugal.
“Damn, I missed out on a tasty snack.” “They’re fantastic steamed with garlic parsley butter,” one man said.
Sea creatures on the beach identified
The goose barnacles that are seen in the eyes of Sutherland Shire residents are Lepas that are mostly pelagic, which means they reside in marine areas separated from the land Assistant Professor Ian Tibbetts, with the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Services, informed Yahoo News Australia.
“They are sometimes washed up on beaches when the object to which they are attached washes up on the beach, but they do not ‘live’ there,” he said.
“I have not seen any ever living intertidally. They attach to floating objects in the open ocean where the filter feed on plankton.
‘Sinister’ theory emerges
The day after finding the barnacles, Ms Hansen said she passed by again but the creatures had died.
“Unfortunately there was no more movement and they were hanging limply, looking slightly brown and just a bit ‘off’,” she posted on Facebook.
The videographer said she also noticed some of the attached barnacles, which need water to survive, were missing and jokingly pondered if a local chef had something to do with it.
“Perhaps some had miraculously detached themselves from the log and returned to the sea,” she said.
“Or even more sinister — some local restauranteur had discovered their culinary value and is now adding a new dish to their repertoire.
“If you happen to see ‘Goosenecked Barnacles’ on a local menu, please observe a minutes silence for these strange, beautiful, but doomed creatures.”
However, Associate Professor Tibbetts said the Lepas species is not edible, unlike others like Pollicipes.