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The month of August – O Paparico and Nature

"Never turn your back on God when diving in search of Lucifer's fingers"

Lucifer's fingers, the rare Portuguese delicacy that men risk their lives to harvest.

“Percebes”, an enigmatic species: mysteries that continue after Darwin... What are they doing in the sea?

Barnacles are cirriped crustaceans, just like barnacles. The name of the barnacles caught in Portugal is Pollicipes pollicipes (from the Latin pollex, meaning thumb).

Barnacles are filter feeders; they live in areas of intense marine agitation and feed when they are immersed in the water. This species lives between Brittany and Senegal.

 It is not found in the Mediterranean, the Azores and Madeira, but does exist in the Canary Islands.

The typical habitat of Pollicipes pollicipes is on rocks, exposed in regions with moving water in areas of strong hydrodynamism.

We call them “Percebes”, but they can be called “Perceves” or we have also heard them called “Percebas”. The name does not matter much, the important thing is that this shellfish is delicious and has a marked taste of the sea.

In some part of a rock defined as the ocean's intertidal zone (the area between high and low tides), where they are fed by plankton brought by the breaking waves.

Unlike other crustaceans, they cannot be farmed and the rough seas make harvesting them dangerous.

They have a tumultuous and unstable life, they fill themselves with the sand that the waves bring in and take away, they get stronger in the struggle of the currents, insistently clinging to the rock until they become part of it. They are as much saints as madmen, those who come to it to catch them with knives and other instruments.  They are solitary creatures that coexist inside small alveoli, protected from predators. They gaze and stretch to feed in a rhythmic festival of life, which is rarely given its due value.

We call them “Percebes”, but they can be called “Perceves” or we have also heard them called “Percebas”. The name does not matter much, the important thing is that this shellfish is delicious and has a marked taste of the sea.

In some part of a rock defined as the ocean's intertidal zone (the area between high and low tides), where they are fed by plankton brought by the breaking waves.

Unlike other crustaceans, they cannot be farmed and the rough seas make harvesting them dangerous.

They have a tumultuous and unstable life, they fill themselves with the sand that the waves bring in and take away, they get stronger in the struggle of the currents, insistently clinging to the rock until they become part of it. They are as much saints as madmen, those who come to it to catch them with knives and other instruments.  They are solitary creatures that coexist inside small alveoli, protected from predators. They gaze and stretch to feed in a rhythmic festival of life, which is rarely given its due value.

It is a shellfish with its own characteristics, which popularly resembles a pig's foot. Fishing for or catching the “percebe” is a dangerous activity, and it is common for accidents to occur when they fall on rocks or are dragged by the sea, resulting in the death of the “percebeiro”, the name given to the people who catch this crustacean.

It is fair to ask why all the fuss about this delicacy. But once you've tasted it, you'll quickly find the answer.

Imagine yourself resting on a sunny day on the beach. The wind touches your face and you can feel the fullness of the sea. That's the real taste of barnacles.

 

Translated by DeepL

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