Filming chambered nautilus for BBC Documentary

Discussion in 'Diving & Ceph Encounters' started by leili, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. leili

    leili Larval Mass Registered

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    Dear TONMO members,

    I am a researcher at the BBC, where we are in the process of making a documentary about mathematics in the world around us. We're keen to include a sequence in which our presenter dives to see chambered nautilus, to accompany a discussion of logarithmic spirals in the programme.

    I have started looking into this, but I have three questions in particular that I'd be very keen to hear your thoughts on:

    - Has anyone gone diving with chambered nautilus before? Do you have any advice on the best places to go to film them? I'm particularly interested in looking at the Philippines and Fiji (for logistical transport reasons), but am open to any location in theory!

    - I understand that the nautilus are caught at night, and brought up to near-surface level for study. Does this harm or disrupt them in any way?

    - We're hoping to film this in conjunction with scientists conducting field research on the chambered nautilus. I.e. we want the nautilus to be caught for scientific purposes (and we just happen to have the cameras there), rather than purely for the purposes of making television. Do you know of any such research that may be going on now?


    Thanks in advance for any help or advice you can give!

    All the best,

    Leili
     
  2. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    First and foremost, :welcome: to TONMO! We have a number of people here quite knowledgeable and able to chime in on Nautilus and, if you're interested, the equally fascinating, mathematically connected, yet ontogenetically and morphologically distantly removed "shells" of Argonauta; now there's an exceptionally fine example of nature applying the same basic algorithm to two totally different situations. I would guess mucktopus and Robyn , as well as ceph will have something for you to start working with, regarding maximizing your chances of a successful encounter with either genus.

    Nautilus

    [​IMG]

    Argonauta

    [​IMG]
     
  3. ceph

    ceph Wonderpus Staff Member Moderator

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    On your way out, consider a stop at the Waikiki Aquarium. We were one of the first to breed Nautilus in captivity and have several on display. We often have eggs.

    I've worked with Nautilus in the lab but not in the field. They migrate up at night and down during the day. Most of the beautiful images you see of adult Nautilus over shallow coral reefs are very likely "created" - the animals are caught at night and released for the shot during the day. I'm not sure what effect this has on them but large changes in temperature and pressure are involved.

    I would also recommended a conservation pitch. Most cephalopods are like weeds with short life spans and many offspring. Nautilus are more like elephants with few offspring and long life spans - they won't bounce back quickly if over harvested. Their shells are in every shell shop throughout the world.
     
  4. gjbarord

    gjbarord Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    I will be on a research team heading to Australia to do some population research with nautilus pompilius. The research is happening in March and then other research trips will be going on in the summer. I am not sure what your time frame is but just wanted to let you know.

    If you have any other questions please feel free to contact me at gjbarord@gmail.com. I am a PhD student at the City University of New York and will be working with a professor at the University of Washington on this project.

    Greg
     
  5. leili

    leili Larval Mass Registered

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    Thank you for the warm welcome!

    OB - Those photos are fab. I don't suppose you know whether the paper nautilus' 'shell' conforms to the same logarithmic spiral as the chambered nautilus?

    Dr Wood - I've been reading your fantastic website, The Cephalopod Page, which has been ever so useful to me in my research. If we don't get to film Nautilus in the Pacific, I am certainly interested in looking into filming them in aquaria. Bruce Carlson has been telling me about the breeding programme at Waikiki aquarium too. I'm not sure if it is at all possible or an advisable thing to do... but I'll ask anyway(!)... can you dive (in theory) with the Nautilus in the aquarium?

    Greg - Are you working with Andy Dunstan & Peter Ward? If so, first of all - lucky you, your research sounds fascinating. March is exactly when we want to film, so your trip is perfect timing for us. I spoke to Andy this morning and told him we're really keen to film with you guys. I'm just trying to see if we can make our budget stretch to taking us to Lizard island! I'll definitely keep you posted on this front..




    Thank you for all your marvellous advice. And if anyone has any more suggestions or tips... they'd be most warmly welcome.
     
  6. cuttlegirl

    cuttlegirl Colossal Squid Supporter Registered

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  7. gjbarord

    gjbarord Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    Leili,

    Yes, I will be working with Peter and Andy in Lizard Island. Glad to hear you are already in contact with Andy. Hope it works out for you.
    I appreciate the updates. Thank you.

    Greg
     
  8. ceph

    ceph Wonderpus Staff Member Moderator

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    Carlson is an excellent person to be talking too and was at the center of the breeding work. As you likely know, he also tagged Nautilus in the wild and demonstrated their day night migrations.

    Our Nautilus tank is not diving sized.

    Your flight may have a layover here anyway which could be extended.

    James
     
  9. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    To answer your question, Leili, they are both logarithmic spirals, but Argonauta's expansion rate appears to be a tad more, by visual comparison alone.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    PS: For Australia, you may wish to contact Rudie Kuiper, who is well experienced in looking up and photographing Argonauta specimens in their natural habitat.
     
  10. Architeuthoceras

    Architeuthoceras Architeuthis Staff Member Moderator

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  11. leili

    leili Larval Mass Registered

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    All of this information is fantastic - I really appreciate it. A few responses:

    James: It would be wonderful to stop by Hawaii and do some filming there on the way. We are still looking into how far our budget will let us roam, but I would love to follow up that discussion with you as soon as I know whether I can make our travels work out.

    Greg: Do you also do lab-based work on Nautilus as well as your field research?

    OB, Architeuthoceras & Cuttlegirl: thank you for the information about Argonauta - it really is a fascinating creature. The fact that their shell follows the same mathematical patterns as the Nautilus makes them of great interest to us! I understand their 'shell' is really an egg case. Do you know at what time of year / what period in their life cycle you would find female argonauts with this egg case?

    And you're absolutely right - I really shouldn't have overlooked the ammonites in my research! I am off to read up about them now..

    Till later, and thanks again

    Leili
     
  12. gjbarord

    gjbarord Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    Leili,

    Yes, I am studying nautiluses in the lab at Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, NY with Dr. Jennifer Basil. The work at the college centers on memory and learning capabilities. We currently have 5 nautilus in the lab!!

    Greg
     
  13. leili

    leili Larval Mass Registered

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    Greg,

    That sounds really interesting! I might drop Dr Basil an email to see if she might be happy to talk to me about your group's research. Do you think that would that be okay?

    Leili
     
  14. gjbarord

    gjbarord Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, I think that will be fine. I believe her email can be found at the Brooklyn College website or I could give it to you through email. I would prefer not to post her email on this thread though. My email is gjbarord@gmail.com.

    Greg
     
  15. SteveM

    SteveM Blue Ring Registered

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    Bumping thread / First post

    Did the filming take place?

    Am new here, result of an overriding interest in Nautiloidea springing from debates among rare pearl aficionados concerning the existence of the mythical Nautilus Pearl. On various occasions, internet searches have led me to TONMO articles.

    Living in Seattle, have taken advantage of the coincidence to become rather well acquainted with Professor Ward at UW via a thorough discussion of Nautilus biominerality and the emerging capability for DNA extraction from shell/pearl protein. Perhaps needless to say, a very rewarding experience. Ward's breadth of specialties has me boning up on an entire array of scientific disciplines.

    BBC: A future Nautilus-related programming tip would be "The South Pacific Adventures of Arthur Willey." Willey's Contribution to the Natural History of the Pearly Nautilus, 1902, is seminal to all modern Nautilus research and was really not expanded until the 1960s. Especially captivating would be the scene where Willey shakes a rather large pearl loose from a dry shell, circa 1896. (We're actually looking for that pearl now in the dungeons of Cambridge Zoology—but suspect exhumation as the most likely method of discovery!)

    I even have a prop—a modern twin to an anomalous N. Pompilius shell Willey found interesting enough to figure in his monograph. Comparison attached!
     

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  16. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    This will definitely be naive but ... What is the chance that the pearls are the by-product of dinner? While looking for jewelry recently, I saw a posting that claimed a pearl was found inside an octopus. I didn't put much faith in the post but it occured to me that consumption of a clam might include consuming an undigestable pearl and that pearl material might not be so foreign to the body of a relative that it might be harbored internally and pushed out of the way in some fashion. I did not know that nauts created them at one time and your post reminded me of my thoughts while reading the octopus pearl post.
     
  17. SteveM

    SteveM Blue Ring Registered

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    I suppose this would be called a thread-hijacking. But perhaps it's the most appropriate way to introduce a peripheral subject such as biomineral concretions in cephalopods!

    Any living thing produces anomalous concretions, bezoars (kidney stones) etc, whether to call it a pearl is subject to debate. There are those that insist that 'pearls' only be nacreous, for example.

    I know Dave LeBlanc, he is describing a biomineral concretion resulting from a cyst, and his octopus 'pearl' is taken seriously by the pearl community, for its undeniable provenance and one-of-a-kind.

    In addition, there is one lab-certified Argonauta pearl, and a total of about half a dozen Nautilus pearls. But these certifications have been given on anecdotal provenance, not scientific proof of ID, as no Westerner in a position to judge has been on hand to witness the actual finding (unlike Dave LeClare and his octopus!).

    Only Nautilus among Cephalopoda has an exterior shell, which is primarily nacreous. Problem is, for several centuries all reports of loose Nautilus pearls (vs. blisters)—held as powerful talismans by Indo-Pacific natives for their rarity and the mysterious nature of the animal itself—have been of non-nacreous, or porcelaneous, concretions. This has created great debate in the pearl community, since the Nautilus shell is predominantly 'pearly' (nacreous) and one would expect the pearls to reflect this. Thus my conversations with Peter Ward and other top mollusk and shell microstructure scientists here and in Europe, regarding the incredible complexity of the Nautilus biomineral factory, which led to all the others. It is an ongoing journey involving Paleozoic evolution of the mollusk shell possible dormant genome sequences.

    By the way, my avatar is a backlit microscopic view of a small (3.1 carat) purported Nautilus pearl, with a characteristic vortical swirl at the pole. Quite fascinating!
     
  18. OB

    OB Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    And a big hearty :welcome: to the fray!
     
  19. gjbarord

    gjbarord Sepia elegans Staff Member Moderator

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    SteveM,

    The filming did take place and went well. I believe it will be showing in Europe this Fall and then make its way across the pond to the USA but not sure how long that might take. I will definitely give updates when I receive them. I think the documentary will be very good and I can't wait to see it.

    Greg
     
  20. SteveM

    SteveM Blue Ring Registered

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    I had replied to this a couple of days ago but it remains pending admin review(??). In any case the octopus pearl is serious, a cyst from injury resulting in biomineral concretion, its provenance impeccable (pulled from the animal by a working scientist). As such, while not particularly beautiful, it is as rare as they come—one of a kind (even if not suitable for jewelry!).

    Nautilus pearls are a centuries-old myth and are the subject of serious debate in the pearl world since historically and in actuality specimens proposed are non-nacreous despite the predominantly nacreous composition of the Nautilus shell. Provenance is uniformly anecdotal, as no Western scientist or pearl specialist has ever been present on extraction. This has led me on an exhaustive research project into Nautilus biominerality and biology, working closely with faculty at University of Washington and University of Granada, Spain (where I am now). Purported Nautilus pearls are represented in my avatar, a backlit microscopic view showing a unique albeit typical polar vortical growth structure. As a bonus, shell microstructure material scientists have determined that the pearls' composition was previously only known from Paleozoic mollusk fossils, and (only discovered in 2009) Monoplacophora. Talk about a mystery! If solved, it might have bearing on long-debated aspects of deep molluscan phylogeny (i.e. perhaps Cephalopoda originated in Monoplacophora/Triblidiida after all).

    jgbarord: Thanks, and looking forward to the BBC segment!
     

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