Photo in the News: "Extinct" Coelacanth Hooked in Asia

coelacanth picture
Email to a Friend


May 22, 2007—Though he may have only been angling for dinner, the Indonesian fisher who caught a rare coelacanth has instead snagged a barrage of worldwide media attention.

Yustinus Lahama captured the fish—which scientists not long ago believed had gone extinct with the dinosaurs—Saturday near Bunaken National Marine Park, off Sulawesi island.

(See a map of the region.)

The four-foot (1.2-meter), 110-pound (50-kilogram) specimen lived for 17 hours in a quarantine pool, an "extraordinary" feat considering the cold, deep-sea habitat of the fish, marine biologist Lucky Lumingas of the local Sam Ratulangi University told the Associated Press. Lumingas plans to study the carcass.

Scientists were shocked when a coelacanth (pronounced SEE-la-kanth) was found off Africa's coast in 1938. They had believed the fish went extinct 65 million years ago, as did a related lineage of prehistoric fishes.

The fish has been a source of fascination ever since. Several other coelacanths have been caught in recent decades, including another in the species-rich waters of Sulawesi in 1998.

Coelacanths usually reach five feet (1.5 meters) in length, have limblike fins, and are covered in hard scales and toothy outgrowths that protect their bodies from rocks and predators.

Unlike other fish, they also give birth to live young.

More Photos in the News
Today's Top 15 Most Popular Stories
Free Email Newsletter: "Focus on Photography"

—Christine Dell'Amore

NEWS FEEDS    After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed. After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS




ADVERTISEMENT

 

50 Drives of a Lifetime

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.