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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Paper Nautilus

15 May 2007
Amortajada, Isla San Jose (50 miles north of La Paz)

Today was a red letter day because we saw something new and quite extraordinary on our beach walk with Steve and Lisa of Flying Free. We hadn't walked 20 feet from where we landed the dinghies when I spotted the holy grail of shells (at least it is to me), a paper nautilus. Lisa was closest to it and she discovered that the animal responsible for making the shell was still in it! According to our shell book it's an argonauta, similar to an octopus, but only 4-8" big. The shell encloses the eggs laid by the female and part of the animal itself. You cannot imagine what serendipity it was to be at that spot on a long beach circling the bay, on an ebbing tide, when the animal had just been deposited at the water's edge. After taking pictures of it (thank you Lisa for always bringing your camera with you) John put it back in the shallow water close to shore and tried to get it to swim farther out. It shot a wad of ink in distress, and didn't seem to be making any headway back to deeper water. We couldn't leave it there where it might get washed back up on the beach so John put water in a bucket we keep in the dinghy, loaded the animal in the bucket, and motored out to where the water went from azure to deep blue. When he got back he told us that the animal attached itself so firmly to the bottom of the bucket with its suckers that he had a hard time floating it free. We hope that it was able to swim down to deeper water where it could find a nice rock to attach itself to until the eggs it was protecting are hatched.

We've found a few of the empty shells so far, but only one of them has been intact. Anita on Liberty Call II has found even more very nice intact shells. So Linda, aka She Who Seeks Shells, is a happy camper today!

Linda and John