Search By Ref

image of paper nautilus shellCome May and June in Cape St Francis a quiet kind of annual competition starts amongst some residents that has nothing to do with the size  of a wave or fish caught. Around this time, it becomes possible to pick up Paper Nautilus shells along the beach. One has to be serious about this as it most often requires you to be first on the beach in the morning, irrespective of weather conditions. It also requires you to keep at it irrespective of success as the very day you decide that it has been fruitless and that you are giving up, that is the day a shell will be found!

These Paper Nautilus Shells, found in tropical and sub-tropical waters are the shells of the Argonauta Argo, an octopus-like creature which get their name from the paper-thin egg casing which washes up on the beach. The shell, created by the female Argonaut to house and hatch her eggs is abandoned once the hatching has taken place…and can then become the rare and special find of the enthusiastic paper-nautilus shell collector. Often shells will be slightly damaged when found due to their passage over rocks or because they have landed on the beach with the octopus-like Argonaut still inside and the shell is then pecked by sea-gulls for a morsel of the juicy inhabitant. The femal e Argonaut who grows up to about 10cms usually dies after she abandons her shell which is probably not as sad as the male Argonaut, only reaching 2 cm in size, who dies immediately after copulation.

There are a number of very rare Argonaut species not found in our area.  Click here should you wish to view more information 
Finding a paper nautilus shell with the Argonaut alive and inside is even more rare.

Categories: News Archives

Comments are closed.