The coelacanth is a rather intriguing fish species that possesses a few rather unique methods of making sure they don’t become the food of larger predator fish, as well as hungry human eaters. In this article, we will take a look at some of the physical and behavioral characteristics concerning the specimen that has recently hit the news headlines.
Where most species of fish are born with smooth scales, only the lower portion of the coelacanth body is covering in smooth scales. Tooth-like spines called denticles characterize the upper part of their body. This part of their bodily makeup allows the fish to better protect themselves from predators. The coelacanth is also known as mucilaginous, which means their scales is able to release mucus that allows them to continuously seep oil. The oil is actually a laxative, which makes the fish impossible to eat unless it has gone through a drying and salting process.
When it comes to getting their own meals, the coelacanth approaches the issue of mealtime in many different ways. The fish dwells in their deep reef environments, as well as volcanic slope habitats and locate their prey in a variety of manners. They will swim with their head down, backwards or belly up in order to find their next meal. They are also considered an opportunistic feeder, as they hunt cuttlefish, snipe eels, squid, and other fish. Coelacanth will also feast upon small sharks.
Researchers view the species as rather successful in balancing their daily routine with eating and even possess the ability to decrease their metabolism at any point in time so they are not plagued with heavy nutritional demands. They may also enter into a state that is close to hibernation just by plunging into the depths of less-occupied sections of water.
When taking a look at the coelacanth species that live close to Sodwana Bay in South Africa, you will learn that they tend to dwell in caves that possess depths of 90 to 150 meters during the day. When night falls, they disperse and travel to depths as shallow as 55 meters to engage in hunting. The temperature of water and the depth is not important during the night as they can thrive in areas that provide very low levels of light. They can rise or sink in these types of conditions with ease.
When it comes to discovering this kind of “living fossil,” there have been assortments of locations that have produced specimens of the species. One of the hot spots that enthusiasts have marked on their map is Tanzania, where confirmed populations of the fish are said to thrive close to the island state of Comoros and around South Africa. Over the years, close to 20 coelacanths have been caught by fishermen located off Tanzania.
In the article titled, “Lucky Coelacanth Finds,” you will learn some of the details behind some of the most notable coelacanth finds in history.