What are argonauts?
Argonaut or nautilus?
Argonaut species
Argonaut biology
Mass strandings
Australian survey
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What Are Argonauts?

Argonauts are a special group of free-swimming octopuses that inhabit the tropical and temperate oceans of the world. Argonauts are most famous for the beautiful brittle white shells produced by females in which they house their eggs. These shells are commonly known as 'paper nautiluses' and are highly prized by beachcombers. The male argonaut is small, never growing larger than a few centimetres. Males do not produce shells and possess a specialised detachable arm (the hectocotylus) for passing sperm to the female.

Writings on argonauts date back to Aristotle (300BC) who described the argonaut as an ocean sailor in a boat of shell, its dorsal arms adorned with sails held high to catch the wind. We now know this to be just a fanciful story, however many aspects of the lives of argonauts remain unknown. From occasional strandings of animals, rare sightings and infrequent catches, we are trying to piece together the lives of these bizarre open-ocean cephalopods.