While we’re not quite looking at a bonified investigation, we are using DNA analysis to help solve a mystery.

During a recent dive in Skookumchuck Narrows on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Aquarium biologist Justin Lisaingo spotted what appeared to be tiny gooseneck barnacles. After conferring with our senior biologists, it was agreed that this was a species of gooseneck barnacle – but not one that any of them had ever seen before.

It’s not hard in this day and age to believe that everything under the sun has been discovered. With the new technologies we have today, humans seem to have touched every corner of this Earth. That’s why this discovery in Skookumchuck Narrows’ nutrient-rich waters was especially remarkable – Justin found this mysterious animal in a place frequented by divers, using only his keen eyes and astute observation.

Two gooseneck barnacles with feather-like "feet" extended

Like acorn barnacles, which you would encounter on hard surfaces during a day at the beach, gooseneck barnacles are also attached to rocks and have feather-like “feet” (cirri). They use their cirri to snag plankton (microscopic plants and animals) that float by for food (see video below).

The gooseneck barnacles that Justin found are smaller than the nail of your pinky finger, and could have been easily overlooked by other divers. He says they resemble the many-plated goose-neck barnacle (Scalpellum columbianum) but he’s not certain. The plan now is to send a sample to a barnacle expert who can test its DNA and tell us whether these gooseneck barnacles have already been identified – or whether a new species has just been discovered.


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