The ocean depths

20,000 leagues under the sea

Take the time to observe the strange ballet of the chambered nautilus, as they slowly cruise up and down their glass cylinder. This animal has not evolved for over 60 million years: you are looking at a living fossil!

A first for our Aquarium

The Aquarium of Noumea was the first in the world to have a permanent display of live nautilus. These ancient molluscs are caught in traps at depths between 150m and 300m. We show them in what is the closest possible approximation of their natural environment, except for pressure conditions: very faint bluish light, water temperature kept at 18° to 20°.

They float ?

The shell of the adult nautilus is made up of about 30 successive chambers, filled with a gas, which gives the animal slightly negative buoyancy. The animal inhabits the outermost chamber only. The nautilus swims by expelling water through a jet located under its mouth, which is surrounded by a ring of tentacles and fitted with a pair of powerful mandibles.

Reproduction in captivity

On June 20th, 2000, the first baby nautilus ever bred in captivity was born in the Aquarium. Nautiluses have separate sexes, and they mate to breed. Mating may last as long as 24 hours! Following fertilisation, the female lays one to six white eggs, about 3cm high. Eggs take 11 months to hatch at a temperature of 22° to 24°. When ready to hatch, the baby nautilus, a miniature replica of its parents, emerges from the egg, a process which may take several hours to several days (36h to 43 days, according to observations).