Waking up in Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

I try to go to the beach as much as I can in the Sultanate of Oman to clear my mind, get a good sand and sea workout, and search for shells. After powering up on espresso at Costa one week-end morning, I hit the shoreline in search of shells. To my surprise, I stumbled upon the odd looking creature below, which was squirting water quite far from its body when I approached it. I later learned (from my Columbia University colleague/mentor) that this is a paper nautilus — and its paper-thin shell is actually an eggcase that the females secrete. When some onlookers (children and migrant workers) noticed me studying it, they came over and wanted to hurt it — but fortunately I was able encourage them not to disturb it and move on. Once they had wandered away, I carefully lifted it by its “shell” and placed it back into the water (it had seemed to be in distress on the beach), watching wistfully as my new strange bobbed away in the waves…

Paper na

Making friends in Oman (Photo: Emily O’Dell)

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