By: Megan Gosch
The ancient spiraled cephalopod, named the chambered nautilus may be nearing extinction due to overfishing and high demand.
The nautilus, which is revered for its pearly shell and ornate design, has been hunted excessively to keep up with a growing demand of nautilus inspired jewelry, decorations and more, reported the New York Times.
Peter d. Ward, a biologist from the University of Washington, believes that "a horrendous slaughter is going on," and could exterminate them. "They're nearly wiped out," said Ward as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The nautilus grows very slowly, reaches sexual maturity at around 15 years of age, and is very easy to catch. Hunting of the nautilus is also highly unrequlated, becoming a free-for-all to those seeking to tap the market for prized nautilus shell, which is likely the reason they have severely diminished.
The nautilus, whose existence dates back more than 500 million years to the Cambrian period, has seen a drastic decrease in population near the Philippines, Indonesia and New Caledonia.
Concern for the loss of the ancient species has caused marine biologists to lobby for its protection under the United Nations rules that protect countless other endangered species.