Coelacanth News!


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Dinofish Pacific Search

     Inspired by dinofish.com's Pacific researches into possible coelacanth populations in a previousaly unknown area- conducted by site creator, Jerome F Hamlin and Diana Dyjak, a Japanese Televsion group plans a submarine follow up expedition. The group using a Triton 3300/3 Submersible will search in the Papua New Guinea / Solomon Islands area. As of now, the original researchers have not been invited to join the expanded expedition, although their research data has been requested. (In the coelacanth realm, the fish so often outclasses the humans!)

 

DINOFACE!

     With a fishface only a mother could love, a coelacanth fronts the cover of an American Scientist article on arrested evolution.

 

fishface

November-December 2014 Volume 102, Number 6

The discovery of a living species of coelacanth, a lobe-finned fish recognized as an important transition in vertebrate evolution, was a surprising and exciting find in 1938, because the fish was already widely recognized in the fossil record. Hailed as a living fossil, even though there has never been any fossil find of the two extant species of coelacanth, it is native to waters around Indonesia and in the Indian Ocean. Although fossil and extant coelacanths look strikingly similar, they do not demonstrate an absence of evolution. In “The Evolutionary Truth About Living Fossils” (pages 434–443), Alexander J. Werth and William A. Shear relate the unseen evolution of living fossils and discuss the definition and usefulness of this term, first coined by Charles Darwin. The image on the cover shows a face-to-face encounter between a coelacanth off the coast of South Africa and the renowned diver and naturalist Laurent Ballesta. (Photograph by Laurent Ballesta.)

Reading the article requires a subscription:http://www.americanscientist.org/

courtesy Rik Nulens

 

Co-discoverer of South African Coelacanths dies in diving accident.

     June, 2014. In a sad development, Peter Timm and a diving companion, Adele Stegen, lost their lives in a freak diving accident at Umkomaas, SA, where they were under contract to recover scientific equipment lost by a research vessel. Both were considered among the best technical divers in South Africa. Timm was one of the discoverers of the South African coelacanths in 2000. Stegen was the first South African woman to see coelacanths in their natural habitat. See article on the South African discovery.

75th Anniversary of Coelacanth Discovery Celebrated

     Grhamstown, South Africa: An international group gathered at SAIAB/ACEP (formerly, The J.L.B. Smith Institute,) to celebrate the December 1938 discovery of the coelacanth at East London- called, at the time, "the biological discovery of the century." One participant compared its discovery to the first human heart transplant. See discovery on this site for the original story, and SAIAB info for event news. (courtesy Rik Nulens)

 

Coelacanth DNA Sequenced!

Credit for four legged ancestor still goes to lungfish.

     In an April 17th, 2013, article in Nature, the authors (Chris Amemiya, a biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, a comparative genomicist at Uppsala University in Sweden) who have worked on coelacanth DNA sequencing of the African coelacanths, Latimeria chalumnae, claim that the coelacanth's genes evolved more slowly than those of other studied fishes and vertebrates , including shark's, perhaps because of lack of predation and a stable environment. The research appears to add some validation to explanations that have already been speculated. Unfortunately for "Coelie" fans, they find the lungfish still seems the more likely vertebrate ancestor.

For a longer synopsis see:

http://www.nature.com/news/living-fossil-genome-unlocked-1.12809


 

Project Gombessa

     A French Dive group, led by Laurent Ballesta, the same team that did the recent photos and film footage used by Nationalo Geographic, completed a new series of dives during a 33 day expedition at the Sodwana, South Africa, coelacanth habitat. They concluded by attaching a GPS to a coelacanth for tracking. The expedition was financed by Swiss watchmaker Blancpain. Some of the pictures and video appear at an exhibit sponsored by the company at the United Nations in NYC.

More info and a blog at:

http://www.coelacanthe-projet-gombessa.com/

        

Living Fossil EATs Junk Food!

     On the 24th of May, 2012, an Indonesian/Japanese team of researchers reprotedly "felt very sad" when they discovered plastic garbage in a coelacanth specimen’s stomach. The specimen had been caught, July, 2011, in Indonesian waters. The fish showed a preference for Lay's Classic Potato Chips! The news was aired by the Manado Tribune on May 29, 2012.

 

(Courtesy, Rik Nulens)


 

     Masa Iwata (Fukushima Acquarium) was in Indonesia again after a break due to the horrible Fukushima earthquake and tsunami from last year. The ROV expedition started early May. In the first period (2nd - May 13th) he succeeded in filming 2 coelacanths in their natural habitat. The region was the same as where the juvenile coelacanth was found on the 6th October 2009. (Courtesy Rik Nulens)

 


     Triton Dive Charters found several coelacanths during their Sodwana Coelacanth Expedition, March 2012. Coelacanths were found on 3 occasions (5 mixed gas dives were undertaken). On March 6, Peter Timm and his team encountered ‘Noah’, the 14th coelacanth, in Jesser canyon. Later, more coelacanths were seen and filmed/photographed. (Courtesy: Rik Nulens) During these dives, Eve Marshall, became the first woman to dive deeper than 100 m, using SCUBA, to see this special fish in its natural environment. (Courtesy Kerry Sink) Editor's note: Deep mixed gas diving is extremely dangerous, with long decompression times, and has involved multiple fatalities and near fatalities in search of the coelacanth. Don't try this at home! -JH


 

     National Geographic Channel ran a program centered on the Sodwana coelacanths, "Preserving the Specimen." For background on the Sodwana coelacanths click here.


Remembering the hooked, the trawled, and the netted!

New Publication details all recorded Coelacanth Catches!

bookcover

     Years of painstaking research by "coelaphiles" Rik Nulens, Lucy Scott, and Marc Herbin, produce the most accurate account of coelacanth catches ever published.

Click here for printable abstract page.

Click here for printable order form.


Japanese scientists claim Tanga coelacanths genetically distinct from Comoran cousins

      ( Nov. 10, 2011 )   Researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology and other entities said the newly found breeding group of Tanga coelacanths linked to the site, has existed for more than 200,000 years without genetic contact with other groups.

     The team published the results in an online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

     Tokyo Institute of Technology Prof. Norihiro Okada and his colleagues analyzed genes of more than 20 coelacanths caught off Tanga, northern Tanzania, and nearby sites. The areas are nearly 1,000 kilometers north-northwest of the Comoros Islands.

     The results showed the fish belong to a population genetically distinct from that off Comoros Islands.

     The two groups seem to have separated 200,000 to 2 million years ago, the researchers said.

     Considering the number of fish caught, the researchers assume the newly discovered population may comprise hundreds of coelacanths near the site.

     This finding conflicts with the claims of German scientists that the Sodwana, South African coelacanths are genetically the same as the Comoran species. (See articles linked from the Recent History page of dinofish.com)

Another Coelacanth caught in Indonesia.

Capture Date: 21 July 2011. 17:00h.

Capture Place: Tatapaan, Amurang – Minahasa, Sulawesi Utara, Indonesia.

Fisherman’s name: Oktavianus Cowan Kawalo

Weight: 13.1kg.

Length: 105cm.

Condition on capture: alive, dying 1.5 hrs later on the boat.

Method of preservation: Frozen.

Condition after capture: Good.

First ref. cited: Tribun Manado, 22 July 2011.

Current Holding: South Minahasa Fishery Office

Additional comments: Pictures taken. Descriptive name Indo 6. The fisherman went to the Tumpaan fish market where the specimen was recognized by Jefri Lamia as the protected Latimeria. Then the authorities from DKP (Department of Marine and Fisheries of North Sulawesi province) were informed and Mr. Arifin Kiay Demak came immediately to the Tumpaan fish market and took the coelacanth with him to freeze it.

(Courtesy Rik Nulens)


          On March 11, 2011, Japan's Fukushima Aquarium was damaged by the tsunami following a massive earthquake. Initial reports indicated that the staff was successfully evacuated to the third floor, but when power to the life support systems was cut off, as many as 200,000 resident aquarium fishes died. Some marine mammals were removed to other facilities. The impact of this event on the aquarium's coelacanth search program is presently unknown to dinofish.com, however the aquarium is scheduled to reopen this July 15th.

          During the November 2010 expedition, scientists from Fukushima Aquarium in Japan, in cooperation with the Sam Ratulangi University in Manado (Indonesia) were able to locate and film 5 coelacanths (in three dives) in Indonesia. With the ROV they traced these coelacanths close to Biak Island (Papua/Indonesia), about 1800km more East than the previous dive locations around Manado (North-Sulawesi).

 

 

Later, three more were observed in the same area. (photo below)

Here are the results from the ROV investigations around Biak.

 

For the statistics…

11 November between 14:22 and 14:46 at a depth of 210m – 2 Coelacanths

13 November between 16:48 and 17:05 at a depth of 194.93m – 3 Coelacanths

15 November at 14:54 at a depth of 194.91m – 1 Coelacanth

One coelacanth has been seen twice, so in total 5 different ones.

 

          On September 21, 2010 a pregnant female coelacanth was  caught North of Karanga Island, about 750 m from Nyuli sand bank, heading east, in Tanzania. The female had about 17-19 pups in her belly and has been preserved.

          On 21/22 September 2010 and  on 27 November 2010, two coelacanths were found in a shark net in Madagascar, West of Nosy Ve (Anakao) – Toliara in Madagascar. Both specimens are now preserved. Sad news came from Zanzibar a few days ago where the female coelacanth and her 23 pups, caught on 17 July 2009, had to be discarded because they had decomposed, due to problems in the electricity distribution on Zanzibar.

 

(Courtesy Rik Nulens)

 

First Filming of Living Juvenile Coelacanth

          The sixth R.O.V. expedition of Japan's Aquamarine Fukushima, succeeded in locating and filming a juvenile coelacanth on October 6th, 2009. The fish was found in Manado Bay, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. It was measured by a laser beam to be 31.5cm. The expedition leader was Masa Iwata from Fukushima Aquarium. (Courtesy Rik Nulens).

Click here for a video clip of the juvenile!

(courtesy Rik Nulens)

 

         The same expedition that filmed the juvenile made a picture of six coelacanths in one cave. See the full account of the Fukushima expeditions on dnofish.com at Recent History/Fukushima. , and an account of the Indonesian Coelacanths at Recent History/Indonesian Coelacanths.

 


 


 
New Coelacanth Research Center / Shrine

          One small step for a fish! The Coelacanth Rescue Mission (CRM), funded by contributors to this web site via Coelashop purchases, initiated financing for a coelacanth research center (CoelaCenter) at Itsoundzou, a fishing village on Grand Comoro island in the Indian Ocean. The center is within several hundred feet of where the largest and most studied colony of coelacanths reside by day in their submarine caves. It is being built and will be operated by APG, a local group supporting coelacanth conservation. The center will be used to increase conservation awareness locally, and conduct ecological research. It will also be a museum dedicated to the history of the coelacanth. Groundbreaking began in April '04. By winter '08, thanks entirely to "coelashoppers" walls were completed for the first floor. In Feb. '08, the Comoros office of the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) Global Environment Facility/ Small Grants Programme, agreed to finance the next phase of the Center's completion, an exciting giant leap for the center and the people of Itsoundzou.. (Pictures courtesy Said Ahamada, Mahmoud Aboud and Jerome Hamlin) Further contributions welcome- see Coelashop.   

 

 

 

 

 

200 T Shirts

2004

 

500 T Shirts!

2005

1,500 T Shirts!

2006

 

2000 T shirts!

2007

 

2,500 T shirts!

2008

 

2,500 T shirts + GEF/SGP!

2009

The Comorian Vice President speaks at the regional opening of the

Coelacanth Center, March 26, 2011


 

 

New port Project and Dynamite Fishing Threaten Coelacanth habitat in Tanzania

          A new deep-sea port planned to be built in Mwambani Bay, just 8km south of the original old Tanga Port, would include submarine blasting and channel dredging, destroying known coelacanth habitat in the vicinity of Yambe and Karange islands - the site of several of the Tanzanian coelacanth catches. In the meantime, the very same area has been gazetted as the Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park. Tensions are brewing as local residents in the area are already being evicted from their lands and livelihoods by the harbor project, though not even a single Environmental Impact Assessment has been done. The new port will be put down right in the middle of the Coelacanth Marine Park! For more info: www.tnrf.org/Mwambani

At the same time, a tradition of dynamite fishing by locals in the area is trashing the reefs where coelacanths and other marine creatures live. (See below: reefs are pink, dynamite fishing area red.) Come on folks! This is embarrassing!

Map detail: World Resources Institute


 

Project Splashback: Deep Release Kit II's Distributed in the Comoros

          Thanks also to Dinofish.com contributors (see Coelashop Hall of Fame elsewhere on this site) Deep Release Kits of the Type II variety were distributed to fishermen in the Comoros through Said Ahamada and the Society for the Preservation of Gombessa on the island of Grand Comoro. In November, 2000, the devices were introduced for the first time on the Comoran island of Anjouan, where coelacanths are also caught and virtually no conservation program existed. The DRK II is a plastic bag attached to a barb less hook packaged in a pocket able plastic change purse. When sinker stones are placed in the bag and the hook on the Coelacanth's lower jaw, an accidentally caught Coelacanth can be lowered back into the cold water on the ocean floor without further stress. The DRK II is easier to produce and is more durable than the DRK I which previously was sewn to the back of a T-Shirt. Both were invented by Jerome Hamlin based on the deep release concept submitted to dinofish.com by Ray Waldner. Presently more kits are being sent to the Gombessa Association in the Comoros. (Gombessa is the local name for coelacanth.) Meanwhile, Said Ahamada, our contact in the Comoros, has received matching support from the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) in the form of 100 lamps to encourage shallow level fishing, and a motorized patrol boat. In 2008, Deep Release Kits were also made available in Tanga, Tanzania, where more coelacanths are now being caught than in the Comoros.

 

 
 
 

 


 

 
Coelacanth Rescue Mission T-Shirts Raise Local Coelacanth Awareness

More CRM T-Shirts were donated to Comoran fishermen throughout the year 2000 and into 2001/2002. T-Shirts are very popular in the "fashion conscious" Comoros. They are often worn to shreds and must be replaced from time to time.

 

 
 
 

 


New feature: Take a detour to the "Lands of the Fish." The coelacanth lives off some of the most exotic locations on the planet. The largest observed population lives off of the Comoro Islands. Click here for a gallery of images from the Comoros. Return via back arrow or dinofish.com homepage.

 

 

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