Turtles are easily recognizable animals, with their hard shell and slow pace! There are many different species of turtles around the world, each with its own unique characteristics. Some sea turtles can even live up to 100 years old!
Most barnacles don’t hurt sea turtles, as they attach to the outer shell or skin of the turtle. But some barnacles burrow into the skin of the host, which may cause discomfort and possible infections.
In this article, we’ll explore what is barnacles, whether barnacles hurt turtles and how to prevent them.
What Are Barnacles?
Barnacles are small aquatic creatures that look like little white shells attached to rocks and other surfaces. They belong to the crustacean family, which includes crabs, lobsters, and shrimp.
Barnacles have a unique way of surviving in the wild – they attach themselves firmly to rocks and other surfaces using their suction-cup-like ‘feet’. Once attached, they filter small food particles from the water with their feathery appendages. This is why you often see them on rocks and other objects in coastal areas.
They can also live on marine mammals such as whales and dolphins! Barnacles are quite hardy creatures and can survive in a wide range of temperatures. They are also incredibly long-lived, with some species living for up to 30 years.
By studying them, scientists have been able to learn a lot about the environment and its changing conditions over time. All in all, barnacles are fascinating creatures!
How do Barnacles Affect Turtles?
Barnacles can be a nuisance for sea turtles, especially when they attach themselves to the turtle’s shell or skin.
In most cases, this does not cause any harm as barnacles are only clinging to the surface. However, some species of barnacle will burrow into the skin of their host, and this can cause discomfort and be a gateway for infections.
If a turtle has excessive barnacle coverage, this can be an indication of overall poor health in the turtle. It is important to properly assess and monitor the extent of any barnacles on sea turtles, as well as take appropriate steps to remove them if necessary. This will help ensure that the turtle is healthy and free from any potential health risks.
In cases where the barnacle coverage is particularly extensive, it may be necessary to take the turtle to a rehabilitation facility for further care and attention. Doing so will ensure that any possible infections or problems due to the barnacles are addressed as soon as possible.
Overall, barnacles can be an annoyance for turtles, but with the right monitoring and care, their effects can be managed. Taking appropriate steps to remove barnacles will help ensure the health and safety of sea turtles.
How to Remove Barnacles on Turtles Safely?
The wildlife centre team is well-versed in the barnacle removal procedure from a turtle’s shell.
They start by placing the turtles in freshwater, which helps reduce the growth of any barnacles, and makes it easier to remove them if they are already there.
This process should take 2 to 3 days for any existing algae and barnacles to fall off. After that, the turtles are removed from the fresh water, and a brush is used to gently scrub away any remaining barnacles or algae.
To ensure the safety of the turtle during this process, it’s advised not to use harsh chemicals or solvents which could damage its shell. The wildlife centre team also recommends applying a moisturizer to the turtle’s shell when done, as this helps protect it from further damage.
Following these steps will ensure that you are able to safely remove barnacles from the turtle’s shell.
Can Turtles Get Rid of Barnacles by Themselves?
The short answer is…sort of. A healthy turtle can control its barnacle load, so if it has excessive barnacles, this could be a sign that something is wrong and the turtle has been ill for some time. Carnot turtles have a special ability to shed their barnacles on their own, but other species do not.
In order to help your turtle shed its barnacles, you can provide them with a good diet and exercise. You should also ensure that they have access to clean water so they can remove old shells and debris from their body.
If the barnacle load is too much for the turtle to handle on its own, you may need to seek professional help from a veterinarian in order to safely remove the barnacles.
Frequently Asked Questions Related to Barnacles And Turtles
1. Should we remove barnacles from turtles?
Removing barnacles from turtles is a tricky question to answer since it depends on the individual situation and species of turtle.
Generally speaking, removing barnacles is not recommended as they can cause not only external damage but also internal damage to the turtle due to infection.
Barnacles are actually a sign that the turtle’s shell is healthy and functioning properly, so removing them should be done with caution.
2. Can barnacle attach to humans?
Yes, barnacles can attach themselves to humans.
Barnacles have a unique adaptation that allows them to adhere extremely firmly to hard surfaces and even flesh. In fact, some species of barnacle, such as the Acorn Barnacle and the Goose Barnacle, are known to grow on ships and whales— including humans!
3. Do barnacles fall off in freshwater?
Barnacles can fall off in freshwater. This is due to osmotic shock that occurs when a barnacle is exposed to water much less salty than its normal environment.
Barnacles are saltwater creatures and ideally prefer salty seawater or brackish water environments, but they are unable to survive in freshwater because the lack of salts causes their tissues to become dehydrated and breaks down their protective coating resulting in them becoming stressed, weak and eventually dying.