It is conclusively shown that cyprids of the barnacle Balanus balanoides (L.) use a secretion released onto the antennulary discs for temporary attachment. This secretion does not stain with conventional histochemical techniques but was shown to be proteinaceous by staining blue in Bio-Rad protein-dye reagent normally used in protein assay. The discovery of this proteinaceous secretion adds further evidence to suggest that cyprids use a form of Stèfan adhesion for temporary attachment during exploration prior to settlement.
Although recent advances have been made in the measurement of cyprid temporary adhesion (Yule & Crisp, 1983), the question of the precise mechanism has remained speculative. Earlier suggestions that the attachment organs of the antennules operated by suction (see Saroyan, Lindner & Dooley, 1969) were challenged on morphological grounds by Nott & Foster (1969) and finally disproved by the force measurements of Yule & Crisp (1983).
Nott (1969) and Nott & Foster (1969) were able to show numerous unicellular glands opening out, individually, onto the surface of the antennulary disc arranged in two concentric rings, one near the margin, and the other around the central sense organ. It was considered that these glands could produce a tacky secretion used for temporary adhesion. Yule & Nott (unpublished, reported in Yule & Crisp, 1983) failed to find any traces of such a tacky secretion on glass surfaces after cyprids had walked across them. To establish the presence or absence of a fluid secretion on the antennulary disc is fundamental to the further understanding of the type of temporary adhesion employed by cyprids.