RARE and valuable sea creatures considered a delicacy in Europe have been found washed up on a beach.

Hundreds of gooseneck barnacles were discovered attached to a glass bottle on Brighton beach.

Elen Agasiants, who made the find, said: “A ball cluster of barnacles had attached themselves to a glass bottle that had miraculously not smashed in the storm.

“They were the most stunning colours and had a very alien appearance.”

The Argus: Gooseneck barnacles. Photo by Elen AgasiantsGooseneck barnacles. Photo by Elen Agasiants

The tentacled creatures are rarely spotted on the shores of the UK, preferring to grow in remote locations.

It is thought the odd-looking sea critters washed up on the beach in the aftermath of the strong winds and rain that hit Sussex last weekend.

Sarah Ward, the Living Seas officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust, said: “We often find them attached to things that have drifted ashore.

“They seem to be quite preferable towards plastic items, so we often see them on things like marker buoys that become detached and wash ashore.

“Obviously with it being winter and having more stormy weather, they tend to be washed in more frequently around this time.

The Argus: Gooseneck barnacles. Photo by Elen Agasiants.Gooseneck barnacles. Photo by Elen Agasiants.

“They’re really interesting creatures and they are certainly quite strange to look at.

Sarah said that it was once believed that barnacle geese hatched from gooseneck barnacles, however it has since been proved that there is no connection between the two species.

The barnacles are considered a delicacy in Spain and Portugal, where they are known as percebes.

They can be worth as much as 360 euros a kilo in peak season.

However, Sarah said that the long, fleshy stem of the barnacle would give them quite a rubbery texture.

She said: “I certainly don’t think they’d be something that would be considered a delicacy here in the UK.

“But, of course, all around the world seafood preferences are all very different.”

In Galicia, an autonomous region in northern Spain, a “fisherman’s guard” has been set up to clamp down on illegal barnacle collectors.

The creatures are often targeted by illegal groups which attempt to sell them to restaurants or in other regions of Spain for profit.

Fishermen go out at low tide, around dawn and dusk and use a sharp, spade-like hand tool to pry them off the rocks in small clusters.

If they were to be ripped directly from the rocks, they would tear and die.

In September, a family from New Brighton, Merseyside, came across thousands of the barnacles on a beach in North Wales.

Their worth was estimated at around £50,000.