Elisabeth discovered a strange creature near Chilpo Beach last week. It looked sort of like a snail/clam, but in the water, it acted more like a cuttlefish or an octopus by changing color and spitting water and even ejecting ink.
The shell was super thin -transparent, really; the creature itself was sort of rubbery and bumpy when we touched it, and it shrank back into the shell a bit, but not slimy like a slug or clam or footed like a snail.
Nick put it back in the water and after it floated on its side for a minute, coming out of the shell, it did some spitting/inking and color changing. Then swam back to shore, with its shell sticking out above the water. So Nick took it out further, but again headed for shore. Maybe it was sick or dying or just wanting to beach itself like whales sometimes do.
When we got home, we looked all over the internet and finally found it: a paper nautilus, which is a very rare type of ... octopus (and related to cuttlefish and squid). The shell is the egg case, indicating that we found a female, and a rather large one at that. You can see a brief video of one here on youtube.
I e-mailed Dr. James Woods, who has a webpage about this creature (he's the associate director of the Waikiki Aquarium in Hawaii), and he was very excited - he's an octopus expert and has never seen one of these alive (!!!). He even asked permission to use our pictures. : )