Monterey Mirth: Meet the ‘Ghost Nautilus'

Look closer. Do you see it?

FUNNY PHANTOM: The first day of the fourth month of the year arrives in many delightful guises. For some, it is all about the gardening, and roses coming full flower, and the yardwork that needs to be done. Others are wrapping up spring break, while some are planning for summer trips. But many people, and many places, make their main focus on April 1 all about benevolent mischief-makery. Look to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which recently saw quite a bit of excitement, and awww-filled acclaim, when a wild Southern sea otter gave birth in its Great Tide Pool in early March. The ocean-smart institution has been known to celebrate an April Fools' Day or two in its time, at least online, and Friday, April 1, 2016 was no different.

OF COURSE, the photo posted, and message, on the aquarium's various social media feeds, arrived with the requisite straight face (no cocked eyebrows or winks in sight). What is the photo purporting to show? Well, a large arrow points at a watery spot in the Great Tide Pool, a spot that seems to hold... well, nothing at all. But, according to those leg-pullers at the aquarium, the arrow is pointing at a ghost nautilus. Make that a...

"COMPLETELY INVISIBLE GHOST NAUTILUS": Okay, aquarium staffers, you had us going for a second. Maybe even a half minute. The ocean is packed with peculiar creatures, and a ghost nautilus sounds very much of that eerie ilk. But the "invisible" part got us checking the date of the post, and, yep, it is April 1, no doubt about it.

AN ARTIST'S IMPRESSION... of the nautilus serves up more arrows, regarding what parts of the creature could be where, exactly, or sort of. The writing that accompanies the photos of the mystical beast brims with charm and cheek, revealing that even our most important nature institutions can rock a whimsical streak, too. Jim Covell, Director of Interpretation, observed the "sighting" and said "(b)ecause light doesn't refract, diffract, reflect or otherwise interact in any way with the ghost nautilus, it's difficult to know if it just arrived or if it's been there the whole time." Heh. Good one, guys. And sail on, dear ghost nautilus, you creature of Monterey myth.

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