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Coelacanth Caught in Zanzibar

A lucky fishermen has plucked an ancient fish once thought to have become extinct when it was no longer located within fossil records for about 80 million years ago. The subject in question is called a coelacanth and according to a representative from Zanzibar’s Institute of Marine Science, the fish was nabbed off the northern tip of the tropical island. This article will shed a little more light on the topic.

An excited fishermen asked for help in identifying the strange catch he brought out of the water and researchers quickly moved to see if he had indeed caught a coelacanth. Yes, it was the elusive fish, who has been sporadically popping up since a 1938 discovery of the first modern coelacanth situated about 30 kilometers southwest of East London, South Africa. The fish weighed 60 pounds and was 1.34 meters long. Since then, similar encounters have taken place, including a discovery in Indonesia in May of this same year, when a fishermen caught a 112-pound (1.31- meter) specimen that was able to survive close to 17 hours in a quarantined pool.

Additional coelacanth firsts that have taken place over the years include the first photos of coelacanths within their natural habitat (1988); the first coelacanth identified about Mozambique (1991); first recorded coelacanth on Madagascar (1995); a new species of the fish identified in Indonesia (1997); and a group of the fish located about Sodwana Bay in South Africa (2000).

What is a Coelacanth?

A coelacanth is the common terminology set aside for the order of fish that possesses characteristics, including the oldest living lineage of jawed fish (known up until now). With connections to lungfishes and tetrapods, the fish were believed to no longer exist since the end of the Cretaceous Period. All of this changed when a specimen of the fish was discovered off of the east coast of South Africa in 1938. In the Chalumna River, the lazarus species was located. Since these first encounters, the fish has started to make appearances in an assortment of international locations, such as Madagascar, Kenya, and Tanzania.

The coelacanth has a history within the geological record for more than 360 million years. Nowadays, as it is still a great find, there have been about 30 cases of coelacanth catches about Tanzania. It is believed the fish dwell within the shallow waters in this region in order to take advantage of a better food supply. Coelacanths are especially fun to examine because they are the only living creatures that possess a fully functional intercranial joint, which separates the ear and brain from the eye and organs associated with the nasal passages.

Some of the habits associated with the coelacanth include the habit of opportunistic feeding, where they typically hunt squid, cuttlefish, small sharks, and other fish that dwell within the deep reef. The fish are also known to call volcanic slopes their home as well. The swimming habits of the fish include swimming with their head down, backwards, as well as with their bellies upward. Significant environmental conditions for the coelacanth include very dim light and a water temperature between 14 and 22 degrees (Celsius).