Nautilus conservation

Nautilus and Allonautilus are the two surviving genera of shelled cephalopods, a group of marine invertebrates common in the oceans prior to the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction. Being some of the last survivors of this once-diverse group, Nautilus is often regarded as a living fossil.

Unfortunately, the continued survival of this long-lived group is in doubt, due to overfishing and the shell trade. In 2012, I had the chance to accompany my Ph.D. advisor Dr. Peter Ward to the Great Barrier Reef, as part of an effort to estimate the population of Nautilus across the Indo-Pacific using Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS).

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This work resulted in a published study led by Gregory Barord, incorporating video footage of nautiluses in their natural fore-reef slope environment and interacting with other native species, including fellow “living fossils” such as giant isopods and hagfish.

To see more BRUVS video and learn about issues relating to Nautilus conservation, click here. To learn more about ongoing efforts to protect the chambered nautilus, click here.