Friday, April 4, 2014


Photo Copyright 2014 by Barry Fackler

A few years ago, I encountered a large male green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) swimming through Honaunau Bay with white masses on his shell. Initially, I thought these might have been fibropapillomas that sometimes afflict sea turtles. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the masses were gooseneck barnacles (Pollicipes polymers) a type of sessile crustacean that can often be seen attached to pilings, docks and boat hulls.

Photo Copyright 2014 by Barry Fackler

George Balazs, NOAA's sea turtle biologist in Hawai'i, explained that barnacles tend to grow on green sea turtles that remain out in the open sea for prolonged periods of time. Most greens spend their time near shore except when traveling to and from their mating grounds.

Photo Copyright 2014 by Barry Fackler

After the turtle came to rest, I found another creature hitching a ride - this slender remora (Echineis naucrates).

Over the years I've seen a lot of turtles but this was the first I've ever seen with barnacles and  one of only a handful I've seen with a remora. I guess this turtle continued his seafaring ways because I never saw him again.

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