Mobile
Action Join Donate
MarineBio Conservation Society Ocean Conservation Marine Life Species Database Education+Careers Projects Sponsors Contributors Photos Videos News Contact
pinterest

Chambered Nautiluses, Nautilus pompilius

Loading species photos...
Loading species photos...

Description & Behavior

Chambered or emperor nautiluses, Nautilus pompilius (Linnaeus, 1758), reach about 20 cm in length. The spiral shell of chambered nautiluses is thin and smooth with a brown and white pattern. They have up to 30 chambers created in their shells as the animals increase in size and move to occupy the outermost chamber. Chambered nautiluses maintain buoyancy through gas passed through a tube in the shell called a siphuncle. This also helps the animal stay upright in the water. Chambered nautiluses have about 90 small suckerless tentacles close to where their body is attached to their shell. These mollusks have very simple eyes without a cornea or lens. Nautilus and Allonautilus are the last living genera of externally shelled cephalopods.

World Range & Habitat

Chambered nautiluses, Nautilus pompilius, are found in the western Pacific Ocean. They are often found near the ocean bottom or near coral reefs in waters up to 500 m deep, but they do travel to shallower waters at night.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

The primitive eyes of the the chambered nautilus, Nautilus pompilius, are not effective for finding prey, therefore the animals uses its acute sense of smell to find small fishes and crabs. They are also known to feed on carrion.

Life History

Chambered nautiluses reach sexual maturity at between 15-20 years of age and reproduce through internal fertilization. Males transfer sperm to the females using 4 of their tentacles through a spermatophore with a protective coating that contains a mass of sperm, which adheres to the female's mantle wall. After the spermatophore is transferred to the female, the coating dissolves and the sperm is released. Females then lay fertilized eggs, each about 3.8 cm in length. The shells of newly hatched chambered nautiluses are about 2.5 cm in diameter.

Conservation Status & Comments

What we don't know about nautilus - by Dr. James B. Wood, The Cephalopod Page

Nautilus pompilius first appeared around 550 million years ago during the early Paleozoic era. According to fossil records, some had shells between 6-9 m long when uncoiled.

Unfortunately nautilus shells are widely collected by humans and therefore commercial fishing for this animal is too common. Since 1987, export of chambered nautilus shells has been widely banned, but many countries continue to sell them. A small percentage are also taken for the aquarium trade. It has been reported that over the course of one 2 year period, as many as 10,000 live animals were caught and killed for their shells.

References & Further Research

Norman, M., Debelius, H. 2000. Cephalopods - A World Guide, Conchbooks, Germany. 319 p.
Jereb, P.; Roper, C.F.E. (eds) Cephalopods of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of cephalopod species known to date. Volume 1. Chambered nautiluses and sepioids (Nautilidae, Sepiidae, Sepiolidae, Sepiadariidae, Idiosepiidae and Spirulidae). FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. No. 4, Vol. 1. Rome, FAO. 2005. 262p. 9 colour plates.
TONMO.com - The Octopus News Magazine Online

Research Nautilus pompilius » Barcode of Life ~ BioOne ~ Biodiversity Heritage Library ~ CITES ~ Cornell Macaulay Library [audio / video] ~ Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ~ ESA Online Journals ~ FishBase ~ Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department ~ GBIF ~ Google Scholar ~ ITIS ~ IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) ~ Marine Species Identification Portal ~ NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) ~ Ocean Biogeographic Information System ~ PLOS ~ SCIRIS ~ SIRIS ~ Tree of Life Web Project ~ UNEP-WCMC Species Database ~ WoRMS

Search for Chambered Nautiluses » ARKive ~ Ask.com ~ Bing ~ dmoz ~ Flickr ~ Google ~ OceanFootage ~ Picsearch ~ Wikipedia ~ Yahoo! Images ~ YouTube

Feedback & Citation

Start or join a discussion about this species below or send us an email to report any errors or submit suggestions for this page. We greatly appreciate all feedback!


~^~ surface

Help Protect and Restore Ocean Life

Help us protect and restore marine life by supporting our various online community-centered marine conservation projects that are effectively sharing the wonders of the ocean with millions each year around the world, raising a balanced awareness of the increasingly troubling and often very complex marine conservation issues that affect marine life and ourselves directly, providing support to marine conservation groups on the frontlines that are making real differences today, and the scientists, teachers and students involved in the marine life sciences. Join us today or show your support with a monthly donation.

With your support, most marine life and their ocean habitats can be protected, if not restored to their former natural levels of biodiversity. We sincerely thank our thousands of members, donors and sponsors, who have decided to get involved and support the MarineBio Conservation Society.