Dienstag, 10. September 2013

Tiger nautilus (Nautilus pompilius)

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was about six years old and spending a few weeks in Sardinia, Italy together with my family. We visited a gift shop with a lot of shells and my father told me that I can choose one shell. We stood in front of three baskets filled with sanded mother of pearl snail shells, giant abalones and nautilus shells. I was tempted to choose one of these big abalones, but at least I had the nautilus shell in my hands. That’s how I got my tiger nautilus and it is still in a good condition. Please read more about my nautilus shells. Pictures and more information under the cut.

Nautili belong to the mollusc and like cuttlefish they are cephalopods. They look like squids in snail shells. If there’s any danger, they move back into the shell and lock it with its “cap”. Nautili move very slowly, eat crabs or little fishes and you can find them in depths of 130 to 300 meters under the sea, but always on the hillside of a reef.

Picture from Wikipedia. You can watch Nautili in the aquarium of Berlin, Germany.
I have more than one tiger nautilus shell now - there are three in my collection. Years ago we sold small nautilus shells in the shop and one was broken. Normally broken things go to the trash can, but I took the broken shell home and glued it back together. It looks like new! It’s so cute and less than 10cm tall.

The "baby".

The other snailhouse I have was sanded and polished, so you can see the mother of pearl. I inherited it from my beloved grandmother. It isn’t as big like my first nautilus shell, but still bigger than the broken one.

In the German language we call these shells “pearl boats”.
We also sell sliced nautilus shells like this one in our shop. As you see, there are a lot of chambers in the shell. These chambers are connected with a channel called “siphunculus”, short “sipho”. The nautilus itself only uses the first chamber for “living”, the others are filled with gas. The animals need that for to dive up and down.

Sorry, bad photo! -.-"
I’m not sure if I would buy a nautilus shell nowadays - even we sold them once. They are quite expensive now, so I think they will get rare one day. But I’m really happy that I own some <3

"Big momma". Even when empty it still has quite a weight. It’s about 20cm in diameter.

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