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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Coelacanth : the BIG misconception 1.0

The big misconception about the fish was obviously the fact that people thought it went extinct about 60 - 70 million years ago. The controversy today is about whether or not the fish should be studied more or should it be left alone. Scientists and curators have been trying for years to capture a live Coelacanth and keep it alive in captivity, but it has not been done. This is because they asphixiate as soon as they are brought to the surface.

Everytime they try and fail a Coelacanth dies so their numbers are now declining because of this . From 1984 to 1994, the Coelacanth numbers have dropped by 30%, because of scientist hunting them, and local fisherman hooking them on their lines. These fisherman hunt for oilfish, which live in the same area as the Coelacanth, so they are commonly caught along with oilfish. Then they are thrown overboard since they are inedible. Not that tasty huh? Too old.

 The Coelacanth was thought to have gone extinct around 60 - 70 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period. This was the famed time of the extinction of the dinosaurs. Because the Coelacanth lives in such deep waters and lives in submarine caves, maybe it was protected from some of the effects of whatever caused the dinosaurs to go extinct. 

No scientist had seen a Coelacanth until Marjorie-Courtney Latimer spotted one, so before that, of course it was thought to be extinct. Now scientists know that fisherman from the Comoros Islands have been catching Coelacanths for years, and just throwing them back in the water. They did not realize that this fish was very important. It was just lucky for the fish that people thought it was extinct, because that meant that no one was looking for it. Now that people know this fish is alive, it is essentially being hunted and their numbers are declining. Some collectors even made it into their personal wall art.

The Coelacanth has paired fins on the bottom of it's body and with these fins the fish may have been able to swim in many different ways. The fin movements of the Coelacanth have been studied somewhat and at first it was thought that the fish may have "walked". This was thought also because the Coelacanth has very bony, meaty and jointed fins. The strong fins may have been used to walk along the sea floor, just like they were used so the fish could swim upside down and backwards. The Coelcanth has never been observed to walk, and so it is assumed that the fish never actually did, it was just a myth. 

The locals around the Comoros Islands called the Coelacanth "Mame" and "Gombessa". They never ate the fish when they found them because they were not edible, so they were just thrown overboard. In Indonesia though, it is called the "Rajah Laut" which means king of the sea.


  1. Wow Ikan apa ni Miau?? besarnya. nampak mcm jenis ikan kecil je. Nampak berusia sangat ikan ni. Berlemak tepuu

  2. Wow Such A Great Post,Thanks For Sharing This Post.


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