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Last week The Monterey Bay Aquarium captured what might be the first-ever recording of a baby nautilus hatching. The video will help their research of the chambered nautilus and other cephalopods. The chambered nautilus is not endangered, but it could be threatened if the trade is not limited.
Researchers at The Monterey Bay Aquarium have been monitoring the chambered nautilus eggs for over a year. They hope that 150 of them hatch so they can study the cephalopods reproductive behavior and their life cycles. It is estimated that they may live up to 20 years, but nobody knows for sure because the entire life cycle has not been observed in the wild. Eggs have never been seen either.
Nautilus is a family of animals made of two genera and six known species. The chambered nautilus typically lives about 1,000 below the ocean’s surface. They populate the seafloor near reefs that are off the coast of Australia, Micronesia, and Japan. They are notable for their striped shells that protect the animal’s organs. The shells can also be used to adjust a nautilus’s buoyancy when the chambers are either full of water or emptied.
The nautilus hatchlings at the aquarium will be kept in captivity and will hopefully help answer some questions about the life cycle of the nautilus. Such questions included: What temperature should the water be? What depth are hatchlings found? What do they eat?
One of the reasons the research is important is because the nautilus has survived several mass extinctions since the Triassic period. Learning more about them may give researchers a clue about how they’ve managed to do that and how it might be replicated.