For the first time on record, a female of the amphibian species Proteus anguinus has laid her eggs in the open at Slovenia's Postojna cave.

Though scientists have been able to get the proteus - known in Slovenia as the olm or "cave salamander" - to reproduce in captivity, this marks the first sighting of eggs in public at the cave, which receives an average of 500,000 visitors a year.

"This event confirms for us how rich and alive Postojna cave is," the head of the reserve, Marjan Batagelj, told Efe by telephone.

The olm began laying her eggs Aug. 10, at the height of the cave's tourist season.

Fifteen eggs have been laid so far, though the olm can lay up to 70. If all goes well, the baby olms should hatch by the end of December.

Batagelj and his staff have isolated the new mother and her eggs from the rest of Postojna's olm population and from visitors, who can view the process via infrared camera.

A fully grown olm is about 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) long.

The olm, also called "human fish" because of its pinkish-white color, dwells in the caves and subterranean waters of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and northeastern Italy.

Slovenes regard the creature as an important part of their natural heritage and the likeness of the proteus was used on coins prior to the country's adoption of the euro. EFE