Rare sighting: Open-ocean creature washes onto Lanikai Beach


A creature that recently washed up on Lanikai Beach had many scratching their heads.

Tiphareth Aquarian snapped a photo before returning it to the ocean. So what was it?

Megan Porter, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, says it’s an argonaut, also known as a paper nautilus.

But it’s neither made from paper nor is it a nautilus. It’s actually a type of pelagic octopus normally found in the open ocean. Its shell can only be found on females.

“What the picture shows is a shell that the females in this particular group of octopus makes themselves as a protection for their eggs. So it’s an egg case that they carry around with them to protect their eggs while they’re developing,” Porter explained. “I don’t think that they come in close to shore very often, or they’re out at times when people aren’t out in the water, so to have one wash up on shore where people can actually see it, it’s actually rare.”

Porter believes the creature may have either been drawn in by lights, or got caught in a wave and washed onto shore.

Click here for more information on argonauts.

Female Argonauta argo with severely damaged eggcase and eggs, encountered at a depth of about 20 cm in a cove at the southern coast of Turkey.
Female Argonauta argo with severely damaged eggcase and eggs, encountered at a depth of about 20 cm in a cove at the southern coast of Turkey. Bernd Hofmann at de.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.0], from Wikimedia Commons

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