A sea creature washed up on a Welsh beach and compared to the Shadow Monster in Stranger Things is actually a rare and very expensive delicacy.
The peculiar looking critter – which has also been described as a “starfish playing the maracas” – was discovered on Bennar beach near Dyffryn Ardudwy, Gwynedd, by regular visitor Shell Longmore.
Curious to find out what it was she posted a photo on Facebook and was inundated with suggestions, reports North Wales Live.
“The stuff of nightmare’s. That’s what it is,” said one person. Others compared it with the Shadow Monster, aka the Mind Flayer, a giant, spider-like beast from the mega-hit Netflix series Stranger Things.
Shell said: “I thought I had seen all the local wildlife until I found this – it was a massive shock! It was a strange-looking creature but also very beautiful.”
Bearing shell-like claws, the creature was identified as a gaggle of Gooseneck barnacles. Regarded as “impossibly ugly”, they are considered a rare delicacy, known as percebes, with sweet and salty tasting flesh.
Gooseneck barnacles come at a luxury price too.
Traditionally gathered from underwater rocks and crevices on Spain’s Costa da Morte, or Coast of Death, they are among the world’s most expensive seafoods.
Export prices of up to £300 per kilo have been reported, though they can be bought online for around £80-£90 for a kilo.
The price reflects the dangers involved in gathering them by Percebeiros – specialist Gooseneck barnacle fishermen who risk their lives diving beneath crashing waves.
The taste is said to resemble a cross between lobster and clam, with a texture akin to octopus.
On Facebook, one user urged Shell to make the most of her find. “Pick them up, sell them or eat them!” he said. “Apparently they are lovely and are really expensive!”