The deep-water cephalopod Nautilus pompilius pompilius Linnaeus, 1758 may benefit from detecting potential signals such as mechanical and acoustical stimuli in its dark habitat where visual information is often limited. Here we examined whether specimens of chambered nautilus are capable of responding to waterborne vibration—a sensory mechanism that has yet to be investigated. We measured the ventilation rate of animals responding to a vibrating bead that produced a range of displacements and velocities. We found that nautiluses do indeed respond to underwater acoustical stimuli, decreasing their ventilation in the presence of a vibratory stimulus. Vibrations resulting from large-bead displacements and high source-velocities caused the animals to decrease their ventilation the most. Stimuli <20 cm from the animals caused a further reduction in their ventilation rates than those at greater distances. These nocturnal animals, living in dark conditions where visual information is often limited, may benefit from including vibrations in the suite of stimuli to which they can respond.
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Vol. 24 • No. 1