Have you ever wondered what lurks in the depths of the ocean? This may not be every persons dream, but some of us have been gifted with the opportunity to sight some of the most strange and obscure looking creatures that live in the waters around us.
The Nautilus is a somewhat bizarre looking creature that dwells deep in our oceans. Having changed relatively little over millions of years, they are often considered ‘living fossils.’ Who knows? They may just have the answers to our questions of the past!
These creatures are found in the Indo-Pacific region and usually inhabit deep slopes of coral reefs several hundred meters below. In Southern hemisphere habitats of New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands, and Vanuatu, they frequent the shallows because of cooler water temperatures as compared to the equatorial ones.
Varying between 16-20 cm. in diameter, the Nautilus’ bony body structure takes form in a shell. This shell is strong and pressure resistant, presently thought to implode only at depths of 800m and beyond. On the inside it is divided into chambers, often referred to in art and literature as a fine example of a natural spiral. The shell is darker and marked with irregular stripes on the outside that helps it blend into the dark waters and remain hidden from its enemies. The Nautilus can fully withdraw into the shell and two specially folded tentacles close the opening by forming a leathery hood. The inner layer of the shell is a luminous color that changes hues with a change in angle, and a jewelry product known as Osmena pearl is obtained from this part.
The Nautilus can have up to ninety tentacles with a ridged surface that allows a powerful grip over their prey. As scavengers and opportunistic predators, they feed on lobsters, hermit crabs and decaying flesh. In a tug-of-war, these tentacles sometimes rip away with the prey firmly stuck to them! The mouth has a parrot-like beak made of interlocking jaws capable of ripping food from the rocks to which it is attached.
So, if you want to spot these oddly fascinating creatures and see them up-close, you know where to go!
Edited by Dominic D’Cruz