New Nautilus Eggs

By Fernando Nosratpour, aquarium co-curator

Great news: Our nautilus has begun laying eggs!

This is second time in aquarium history that our nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) has laid eggs; it laid about two-dozen eggs in 2009, although none were viable (not uncommon for these animals in aquariums).

This time, we’ve found four egg cases and hope to see more in coming weeks. The eggs, which resemble cloves of garlic, will be removed and placed in an incubator tank so that our aquarists can keep a close eye on them.

Nautilus belong to the cephalopod family, which includes octopus, cuttlefish, and squid. They are often called “living fossils” because they’ve survived nearly unchanged for millions of years. They live in tropical Pacific waters, where coral reefs descend into deep waters. They can live more than 15 years.

Below are photos from the eggs laid in 2009. The white, sponge-like growths are the egg cases. The eggs are protected within the case and take 10-12 months to hatch.

Nautilus Egg case

A nautilus egg case that was laid on the shell of a tank mate in 2009.

Egg cases from 2009

Egg cases from 2009

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography UC San Diego