Paper nautilus is a rare and enigmatic species of cephalopod which rarely graces the pages of Reef Builders, but when it does, it’s usually only one specimen at a time. Very little is known about the paper nautilus, its life history or how it breeds, but this new video from YouTuber Dam Nguyen may shed some light on that.
The paper nautilus, also known as the Argonaut, is known from most of the oceans of the world, and unlike nearly all other cephalopods the Argonaut is a pelagic species, only found in the open ocean. The paper nautilus gets its name from the paper like covering that it secretes, not as a true shell, but is actually an eggcase in which the mother lives, mostly as a kind of pouch in which the young are brooded, and it also serves buoyancy duties.
The recently shared video shows a grouping of the elusive paper nautilus off the coast of California in the Channel Islands. You can see the 20 something argonauts excitedly grouping, dividing and regrouping, occasionally breaking off as tangled pairs which we reasonably assume to be mating behavior.
To our knowledge this is the first time this kind of cluster of paper nautilus has been documented on video, and with such crystal clarity to boot – thank goodness for modern underwater filming equipment. Unlike Nautilus, Cuttlefish and Octopus, paper nautilus are rarely kept in aquaria, due to their pelagic nature much like squids.
However this is one species we can appreciate from a distance and in the wild, and we don’t mind sticking to our ground dwelling cephalopods to study in aquariums. The undescribed red hairy octopus is another matter though, hopefully we can learn more about this irresistible species in the future.