Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Call to ban trade on iconic nautilus seashell

Date:
May 28, 2014
Source:
University of Adelaide
Summary:
A palaeontologist is calling for a global ban on the trade of the highly sought-after Nautilus seashell. He has just returned from the Philippines where he discovered the Nautilus was close to extinction at sites known for Nautilus fishing.

The endangered Nautilus.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Adelaide

A palaeontologist, who has recently joined the University of Adelaide, is calling for a global ban on the trade of the highly sought-after Nautilus seashell.

Peter Ward, new Professor in the University's Sprigg Geobiology Centre, has just returned from the Philippines where he discovered the Nautilus was close to extinction at sites known for Nautilus fishing.

Professor Ward is taking his findings from the Philippines and other expeditions to a meeting in Washington DC next week of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This meeting will determine US policy on Nautilus trade before the next round of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

"The Nautilus situation we found in the Philippines was mind-boggling," says Professor Ward. "The Philippines have been at the centre of Nautilus fishing for decades. Now it is just about extinct there. And it is not just Nautilus. In the same environments we found almost no larger fish at all where there should be large schools of many different species."

Nautilus − often called "living fossils" because they have survived relatively unchanged for millions of years − live at the bottom of the sea at depths of 100-600 metres in deep reefs in the Indo-Pacific region, including Australia.

Desired for their beautiful shells, they are heavily fished and traded internationally ̶ commonly seen on websites like eBay for as much as AU$200, depending on size.

"We know that the largest Nautilus in the world come from WA, and we are seeing them being sold on eBay even though there is supposed to be regulation in Australia," says Professor Ward. "There is good reason for concern about WA deep reefs."

Over the past four years, Professor Ward has conducted a census of Nautilus using special underwater technology developed at University of Queensland. Professor Ward has studied Nautilus populations at the Great Barrier Reef, Fiji, American Samoa and the central Philippine Islands.

"We found Nautilus at rates of 10-15 per square kilometre in the Great Barrier Reef, but in the Philippines they were 100-200 times more rare than that ̶ virtually extinct in the Bohol Strait and completely gone, as far as we could see, from three other classic fishing locations.

"Nautilus is the 'canary in the coalmine' of the deep reef environment," he says. "It tells us about the health of our deeper reefs where little ecological study is done. When Nautilus isn't there, we know that the other fish at those depths are also at risk from overfishing or other environmental factors. We cannot rule out high acidity and warming of these formerly cool, deep waters caused by climate change, and from rising levels of silt caused by nearby deforestation."

Professor Ward is best known globally for his work and theories on the mass extinctions of Earth's history. "Nautilus has survived every single mass extinction event that's been thrown at it over half a billion years, now it's being wiped out by humans to sit on a bathroom shelf or as a pretty button on someone's shirt," he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Adelaide. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Adelaide. "Call to ban trade on iconic nautilus seashell." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140528103036.htm>.
University of Adelaide. (2014, May 28). Call to ban trade on iconic nautilus seashell. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140528103036.htm
University of Adelaide. "Call to ban trade on iconic nautilus seashell." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140528103036.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) The discovery of a bear cub in the Pyrenees mountains made headlines in April 2014. Despire several attempts to find the animal's mother, the cub remained alone. Now, the Pyrenees Conservation Foundation has constructed an enclosure. Duration: 00:31 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) A rare whale fossil has been pulled from a Southern California backyard. The 16- to 17-million-year-old baleen whale fossil is one of about 20 baleen whale fossils known to exist. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins