do barnacles hurt turtles

Do Barnacles Hurt Turtles?

Barnacles are crustaceans that can cause harm to living organisms, and turtles are no exception. Barnacles attach to the shells and skin of turtles, but do they cause pain and harm them?

Barnacles on Turtles

Turtles, especially sea turtles, live in habitats that are full of barnacles. Barnacles often attach to turtle shells, and less commonly to their skin. The barnacles can be a problem for turtles for many reasons:

  • Weight: The weight of the barnacles, especially in larger numbers, can tire out the turtle. This is a bigger problem for marine turtles, who must fight against currents when swimming.
  • Clogging: Barnacles can also clog the gill openings and the shell interfaces of turtles. This prevents the turtle from being able to properly absorb oxygen and can lead to exhaustion and death.
  • Disease: Barnacles can introduce diseases to turtles, or act as a vector for them to spread throughout the environment. The spread of disease can have serious consequences for delicate turtle populations.

Do Barnacles Hurt Turtles?

No, barnacles do not cause pain or discomfort to turtles as they attach themselves to their shells and skin. For example, when a barnacle attaches itself to a turtle’s shell, the shell is thick enough for the barnacle to not be able to penetrate the skin.

However, even though the turtles may not feel pain from the barnacles directly, the other issues listed can still be problematic and cause harm to the turtles.

Can Turtles Remove Barnacles?

Turtles cannot remove barnacles that have attached themselves to their shells and skin. The only way to remove them is by cleaning the turtle with a gentle brush or scraping the barnacle off with a knife.

It is important to be careful when removing barnacles to not injure the turtle or cause further damage or harm.


While barnacles may not cause pain to turtles, the other issues they can bring can still cause serious harm. Regular cleaning of turtles is important to detect any barnacles and parasites and remove them before any further damage is done.

Recent Post

Join Our Channel

Send Us A Message