NAUTILUS

Nautilus (Fam­ily Nau­til­i­dae, listed on CITES Ap­pen­dix II – Higher pro­tec­tion from mas­sive trade de­mand)

Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet - - Contents - By David Selmeczi

The cham­bered nautilus, Nautilus pom­pil­ius, also called the pearly nautilus, is the best-known species of nautilus. It hasn’t changed in all of its 400 mil­lion years of ex­is­tence. As a slow-grow­ing in­ver­te­brate, it is es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble to over­fish­ing as it takes 15 to 20 years to ma­ture and only lays one egg at a time with only about a dozen eggs in a year. The eggs take about a year to in­cu­bate. Tar­geted for its shell, it is also threat­ened by pol­lu­tion and pre­da­tion by bony fishes, oc­to­puses and sharks.

I had waited a long time to have a chance to take a photo of this liv­ing fos­sil. As a deep-water species – the nautilus typ­i­cally in­hab­its depths of sev­eral hun­dred me­tres – it’s not a com­mon crea­ture to en­counter as a scuba diver. The ver­ti­cal move­ment pat­terns of these an­i­mals are not well un­der­stood, but it may be that they rise at night to feed, mate and lay eggs. I feel very priv­i­leged to have come across one in shal­low water.

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