PassageMaker

OF BARNACLES AND BOTTOM PAINT

BARNACLES

Boat owners see barnacles much the same way backyard birders view squirrels or the way gardeners feel about any number of small mammals that gnaw on fresh veggies: They don’t much like them.

And like feeding birds or growing vegetables entails battling with these respective pests daily and often to no avail, boat owners’ efforts to mitigate barnacles (and the other flora and fauna collectively known as “marine fouling”) is ongoing and often feels futile. Yet while rodents and lagomorphs may have a certain charm in a different context (animated films, Beatrix Potter books, internet memes, etc.), barnacles are almost universally undervalued. (Apparently “Barnacles!” is used as a stand-in expletive on the animated TV show SpongeBob SquarePants.) Even in tide pools and aquarium touch tanks, the barnacle can’t compete. It lacks the star power of the sea star, and even common hermit crabs (they steal other animals’ shells!), the drab green rockweed (you can pretend it’s mermaid hair!), and timid periwinkles (they’re not as boring as barnacles!) have more allure.

The largely inert barnacle seems to barely qualify as an

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