Nautilus on Ebay...

jhemdal

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Yep, its going to sell. If you look at the bidder's feedback items, he has purchased things like bangaii cardinals and neon gobies. Hopefully the nautilus isn't going into the same tank (but I'm sure it is).

Hey - does anyone have an EBay account they don't care about? You could either bid $500 for it and then bail out of the auction, (and take a hit as a non-paying bidder) or you could contact the bidder directly and warn him or her off. I can't do either 'cause I have two items up for sale right now, not to mention 190 positive feedbacks that I need to protect.

JHemdal
 

scott

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My boss is the one who put the Nautilus on Ebay.

I'm the one who came along after the fact and corrected the page (replaced the copy written image as well) and added some crucial info regarding the Nautilus.

I'm caught in a bit of a catch 22 here.

I was the person who talked my boss in to saving the Nautilus from the "diver" (I use the term loosely) who came in flaunting it like a piece of jewelry. I've read a little bit about Cephalopods to know that they are sensitive and delicate creatures, but my knowledge of this particular species was non existent at the time. So needless to say, I talked my boss into shelling out $450 for this creature.

Now here's the issue:

The Nautilus was placed on ebay in order for him to recoup some of the money back. I've tried to talk him into donating this creature the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution which is 10 minutes up the road from us (BEAUTIFUL facility, by the way). I even used the "good for business" approach stating that we could call the local newspaper and try to make it a positive "PR" move. But, unfortunately that's not happening.

So now I'm sitting in a position where I feel maybe I should have not persuaded the owner to buy this creature. Although I can guarantee he would not be alive today if we hadn't. But now I'm worried that we won't be putting this creature in capable hands.

I'm really at a loss. It's sort of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. Even if I had the money to buy him from the owner... I don't have a proper environment for him (or her).

:sink:
 

monty

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:welcome: and thanks for giving us some more details... sorry that this is turning into such a mess...

I'm a bit confused about how it was decided that the diver should be paid $450 for the animal in the first place... although if he was torturing the poor animal to death, and that was what he asked to give it up, I can understand the rationalization.

I think in the bigger picture, the main concern is that very few people are qualified or equipped to give a nautilus a comfortable home, so as you've read, a lot of the folks here really don't want the precedent that these animals should be sold to hobbyists. I'm not sure what the right thing to do is for the animal, and for the good of nautiluses in general... if this encourages people to collect them and sell them in the pet trade more by having people realize that they can get $450 for them, that'll be incentive for people to capture them. But it does seem unfortunate if you and your boss are penalized $450 for trying to do something responsible...

Maybe we can brainstorm a bit; what does the NRCC do when obtaining new nautiluses from collectors? I'm concerned that if we try to find it a good home, since you don't seem to have much respect for this collector, that it could be carrying pathogens or parasites. If it's unhealthy, it might be a liability. If those aren't concerns, there are folks here who are equipped to keep nautilus: gjbarord, Robyn, and I think maybe jhemdal. But I have no idea if they would want to risk bringing a new animal of unknown history into their tanks, and I doubt any of them would pay $450 when they could get one from the NRCC for $190. Of course, it's possible that the mystery ebay bidder is actually a good home for the animal, but that seems unlikely...

Unfortunately, sometimes when this sort of thing comes up, the best course of action in the big picture seems to be to make sure that the animal dies in the store without being sold, so that in the long term the stores don't buy them from collectors and the collectors stop collecting them. But that seems needlessly cruel to this particular animal.

Really, the diver overcharged your boss, and that's going to be hard to fix.

I guess some other things I'm unclear on are where the animal is now, and what we know about its condition and history... if the diver you got it from took such bad care of it, I'd worry that it may not have much time to live, which would make it even less likely to be worth $450...
 
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:welcome: and thank you for posting. Is there another aquarium in Florida that might be willing to accept this animal? Florida Aquarium or Mote Marine Laboratory? I don't really know too much about either of these facilities but at least it is a start.
 
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They way I read his post was not that the aquarium he wanted to donate the Nautilus to would not take it, but that his boss (who actually purchased the animal, after persuasion) was not willing to donate an animal that he paid $450 for. I would probably buy this animal if I had a tank for him, mostly because I think that I would be more capable hands than a lot of other hobbiests (at least I know basic things, and have expert people from this site that can help me when I have questions), and hopefully this nautilus would have a good home at least for a while. Unfortunately, I am not in a situation right now to purchase this animal, nor do I plan to be for quite some time (though I do hope I will have the chance to keep one [or more] down the road).

I hope this animal can be found to a good home. Maybe the seller can direct the buyer to this site so that he may have access to care information if he chooses to be 'responsible'.
 

jhemdal

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All,

I understand everyone's concern about this animal, but try to keep it in perspective - it is a single INDIVIUAL. Huge numbers of these are trapped and then sold as shells in the Philippines (or used to be before the populations crashed). I'm much more concerned about the bigger issue of selling live animals on EBay. Animal auctions are all fatally flawed because the person getting the animal is the one who pays the most for it, not always the one who can care for it properly. I've even see this at the aquarium club level - you know, fish clubs that get together and hold auctions once a year. At the end of the day you see bags of baby cichlids being sold for $1 for use as piranha food.
It is against the code of ethics for any member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to allow one of their animals to enter an animal auction. It is not open to discussion. In fact, there are severe penalties for anyone who allows this - loss of membership and acreditation being two possibilities.
I feel animal auctions are a major problem - in all other cases of transfering ownership of an animal, the seller works directly with the buyer and can decide for themselves to complete the sale or not. When you lose that control and oversight, problems can and do ocurr. EBay recognized this, and developed rules against it, but then somehow allowed "fish" to be exempt. Perhaps 'cause as we all know, "fish ain't animals". Then, when you combine an animal auction with shipping live animals via overnight service by people who aren't experienced at it - well, the results are simply untenable.

JHemdal
 

monty

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Thanks for the elucidation, JHemdal... Not that I supported selling animals on ebay anyway, but you bring up some compelling problems with it that I hadn't considered.

I do think it's important to separate out this nautilus and Scott and his boss a bit from the big picture issue, though. It sounds like Scott, and to some extent his boss, were well-intentioned with respect to this animal. In my mind, the best solution would be to have the animal removed from ebay (and have them agree to ban, if not cephalopod auctions in general, at least those that are rare or have very specialized needs) but also find a way to get this animal to a home where it will not be doomed to a short, miserable life followed by a suffering death. I also think it's worth acknowledging Scott for trying to do something positive, even if the details have ended up entangling the good intentions in this other stuff.

I think the most important thing, actually, is not so much to make Scott's boss loses the $450, but to try to communicate to the world that nautilus and other exotic, rare, and hard-to-keep animals should not be provided in markets that don't ensure that they are sent to people equipped to keep them, and should not be collected in general. I'm not advocating passing the hat to pay of $450 to get Scott's boss to be willing to donate the animal to a proper aquarium (I rather liked Scott's point that a donation could be "spun" into $450 worth of free publicity) but I think that the only villain I see here is the diver who collected the animal in the first place, and then opportunistically overcharged Scott and his boss to "liberate" it. And now he might think that if he sees another nautilus in the wild (where the hell was this guy diving, anyway?) that he can make a quick $450 off it on ebay.

Although I'm 100% behind the goal of making nautilus collected only on special-order for institutions, and maybe a few extremely experienced and well-prepared private aquarists, I think that it's important to that goal to separate anger at the problem from automatic anger at the people-- Scott, and quite possibly his boss, seem to be reasonable, friendly, well-intentioned people who hadn't thought through the details of this situation, and are now in the unenviable situation of having more understanding but also $450 less than they started with and a nautilus that they don't know what to do with. If we can come up with some sort of solution that addresses that without causing more nautiluses to be sold, or to die unsold, on ebay or in LFSes, then that's a Pareto optimal solution.

I just want to make sure that we recognize that Scott seems to be an open-minded, well-intentioned person, who doesn't appear to be an intentional part of some vast cartel of nautilus abusers... in fact, he seems to want to make sure that nautiluses aren't suffering needlessly!

That being said, though, Scott, I think JHemdal made some excellent points about why selling this animal on ebay is not a good solution for nautiluses in general, and since your boss was open to your convincing him to rescue the animal in the first place, perhaps he'd also be open to withdrawing the animal from ebay considering what the consensus among people familiar with the issues involved seems to be. His business would certainly deserve a call-out as someone who cares about cephalopods here, although I don't know how one judges $450 in good publicity... And of course, it's still desirable to find somewhere that the nautilus could find a good home without encouraging problematic collection and sales, and it doesn't seem likely that ebay is a viable route to that solution.
 

gjbarord

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This is simply another case of supply and demand. If no one was willing to buy them, no one would be willing to sell them (no matter what it is). As long as ignorance and apathy persists, cases like this (and even worse) will continue to occur. As Jay stated, these animals are collected quite vigorously for their shells, which people buy, even though there is no conclusive evidence of wild population numbers.

Living in a tourist town on the ocean gives me some troubling perspective on this subject. Tourists love "touristy" junk; coral, seahorses, nautilus shells, etc. All of these are readily available at the souvenir stands around Galveston. I have spoken to a few people who either bought these items or intended to about the collection methods employed and what they are actually purchasing. Surprisingly, most had changed their mind on the subject. Who is to say that just because we have the knowledge (knowledge only made possible by others shortcomings) to take care of these animals that we should be taking them?? We then play the education card and stand proud, but unless these animals made money they would not be here but because people spend the money we hope that they are educated. Just a means to an end I suppose.

The scope of this predicament is much larger than ebay and this one nautilus, but change has to start somewhere I guess... (it is critical though to leave the emotions at the door when seriously approaching this subject as you may not be taken seriously)

Greg
 
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The collection of Nautilus for their shells is something we (as hobbiests) cannot prevent. The purchase of Nautilus for the aquarium trade is something that we will hopefully be able to get a grasp on and let people know why these animals should not be collected. Also, once people find out what is truly needed to keep these animals alive I doubt most will be willing to go through it. I doubt most will care about the requirements there are to keep nautilus as well, especially the very low amount of light they need and the cold temperatures. The biggest worry I have with Nautilus getting into the hobby is that they will almost always (99% of the time) go to an unfit home. I am not scolding Scott or his boss about purchasing this animal; they bought it with the best of intentions, and they should do all they can to ensure this nautilus is put into a well-equipped home.
 

monty

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I'm in complete agreement with you, Greg-- I'm frequently dismayed at "seashell" stores or other businesses that sell ornamental nautilus shells and dried seahorses in particular. I would assume that most of these come from live animals that are caught and processed (killed, dried, and so forth), but that most consumers don't realize that, and assume that shells they're buying were found by beachcombers.

That being said, though, when I try to leave my emotions at the door, I have to ask myself about the relative numbers in a lot of issues we talk about with concern here. I've occasionally mentioned that there are more dead octopuses in the "octopus salad" bin at the Pasadena Whole Foods market than are sold on eBay in a month, maybe a year. Admittedly, they're dead rather than slowly suffering in tanks with inadequate filtration, but some of the things that contribute to the supply-and-demand are either "in your face" like the nautilus on ebay or "under the radar" like nautilus bycatch in other fisheries. I know nothing about the latter topic (maybe any time fishermen catch a nautilus they sell it to the decorative shell trade, who knows...) In the seahorse domain, I understand that although the pet trade is significant, and the dried-seahorses-as-decoration use is even more so, the most dramatic impact comes from Chinese traditional medical use of sea-horses as some sort of drug (which, as far as I know, has not been substantiated by any scientific study-- I actually think Chinese traditional medicine has some interesting things that should be investigated, but the "we don't have to prove that this works" attitude that goes with it leads to kooky claims about dried seahorses, rhino horns, and tiger penises causing crazy demand and contributing significantly to depleting the wild populations.

Of course, in the supply and demand arena, we need to take into account that greedy collectors would probably prefer to get a 10% share of a $450 live nautilus than a $20 shell, so it's particularly disturbing that this will show up for people looking on ebay for "how much can I sell this for." Of course, restricting sales without decreasing demand often create a black market or specialty market that drive up the price even higher, so it's important to take that into consideration as well.

I do remember growing up that I convinced my parents to buy shells and dried seahorses that were sold at our local natural history museum, and I know that in the 80s, at least, there were several big shell stories aimed at the tourists around the Monterey Bay Aquarium-- I don't remember seeing these at TONMOcon I, but maybe that was because I was more paying attention to getting to know TONMO people than the stores. I avoid buying these things now, but I'm not at all surprised that when you educate tourists in your area that they had no idea their purchases were in any way problematic.

Are there any studies of the impact of collection of nautilus for shell sales on the wild population, or even studies of nautilus fisheries in general? Maybe we should consider agitating for restrictions on the importation of nautilus shells if we really want to have an impact on the wild population... but discouraging the sale of live animals on ebay and in LFSes seems ethically good even if it's an insignificant impact on the live populations, as far as I'm concerned, because I don't like to see intelligent animals tortured to death in inhumane conditions, and the vast majority of the time, that seems to be the outcome of private nautilus keeping.

This article has some further information in the shell nautilus trade-- there's an HTML problem that hides the fact that it's by Dr. Neale Monks, I'll email Dr. Wood about that.
 

scott

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I would like to thank you all for the warm welcome to the forum. I expected to receive a lot of "cannon fire" due to the nature of the situation, but I'm glad you gave me the opportunity to explain.

I'm doing whatever I can to educate myself on this matter. Some of the things I've run across have been pretty disturbing. The fact that thousands of these creatures are taken from their habitat and killed for the purpose of selling the shell really infuriates me. I can almost guarantee that would have been the outcome of this Nautilus.

I intend on sticking around for a while to read and hopefully contribute to the forum. So, again, thank you all for the welcome.

Hopefully this whole situation will turn out for the best.


-Scott
 
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I think me and Monty are on the same page as to what we feel about this subject... he is just better at expressing it in words. I just have a race of things I want to say going through my head, and sometimes I'm not very good at putting them all on paper in an organized, fluent way, at least.

Scott- You're welcome. I look forward to seeing you around. Hopefully you will be able to learn more about the care of all cephalopods so if you ever get into another similar situation you might be able to make a good temporary (or maybe even long-term) home for the octo, cuttle, squid, or nautilus.
 

monty

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shipposhack;104584 said:
I think me and Monty are on the same page as to what we feel about this subject... he is just better at expressing it in words. I just have a race of things I want to say going through my head, and sometimes I'm not very good at putting them all on paper in an organized, fluent way, at least.

:oops: thanks. I think you're doing fine, though, and maybe showing less inclination to ramble on too long than I do :tomato:... I'm really appreciating everyone's input in this discussion, and I'm glad that Scott isn't feeling thrown to the lions :sink: and that no one seems to be feeling muzzled :silenced:. I'm really glad that we can have forthright discussions :talker: that deal with these issues :nautilus: that many of us are passionate :heart: about without it collapsing into a flame war :yelling:, so kudos :notworth: to everyone for keeping it in the "sweet spot" for productive discussion... :rainbow:
 
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Lol, love all the faces! I'm glad we can talk about stuff like this too without everyone yelling (YOU KNOW, LIKE THIS!) and getting angry about things. We are such a peaceful community :smile: :wink:

I enjoy your rambles, Monty. I think I read every one that I come across, and if I don't have time I will come back to it. Sometimes long posts are intimidating though, but I'm usually glad I read them when I am through.
 
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