Updated 2020

Photo: Said Ahamada

The Human Side of the Story:


An Illustrated Chronological Review

Read down the list from past to present...


1938: The Coelacanth is "discovered" off South Africa.

1952: Coelacanths "discovered" to inhabit the Comoro Islands.

DOCUMENT Greatest Fish Story ever Told: "Discovery" of the Coelacanth (article)
IMAGE Life Magazine, April 3, 1939 announces discovery of a "living fossil."(pictures)
IMAGE The story begins: Captain Goosen and the Nerine. (pictures)
IMAGE Courtenay-Latimer, "First" Coelacanth, I.D. sketch, Reward Poster (pictures)
IMAGE The 1938 "First coelacanth" today in the East London Museum, South Africa. (pictures)
IMAGE Life Magazine, January 19, 1953 announces the "Second Coelacanth" found at the Comoro Islands. (pictures)
IMAGE Courtenay-Latimer, JLB Smith, Eric Hunt, James Millot (pictures)
IMAGE Possessions of JLB Smith displayed at SAIAB- the former JLB Smith Institute in Grahamstown, South Africa. (picture)
IMAGE Ahamadi Abdallah accepting a reward for the discovery of the Comorian Coelacanths (picture)
IMAGE The 1952 "Second coelacanth" today at SAIAB- the former JLB Smith Institute in Grahamstown, South Africa. (picture)
IMAGE Comorian fisherman in dugout canoe (picture)
IMAGE Comoran fisherman with Coelacanth (picture)
IMAGE Three views of a Comorian Coelacanth (pictures)
IMAGE Looking into the mouth of an enormous female, caught June, 1989 in the Comoros(picture)

Coelacanth Gyotaku (ink impression)

  1986: Modern coelacanth biological research kicks in with Explorers Club Expedition in 1986.
IMAGE Picture and article.

1987: First films made of coelacanths at natural depth.


"Jago" research submersible and Fricke Dive Team (brief article, pictures)

IMAGE Diorama at SAIAB showing Jago observing coelacanths in a cave. (picture)
IMAGE Front page news: Coelacanth in the New York Times (picture)
DOCUMENT Jerome Hamlin's Submarine 'Descent to Cave 4'
(illustrated article)

Two Coelies at Cave 4!(picture)


1997: Coelacanths "discovered" in Indonesia.


"Discovery" of the Indonesian Coelacanths (article)


The Indonesian Coelacanth (picture)


2000: Coelacanths rediscovered living in South African waters.


Discovery of the "NEW" South African Coelacanths (article)

IMAGE Coelacanth on a South African submarine ledge (picture)

Video of Sodwana coelacanth taken on a dive with Richard Pyle, Rob Whitton, and co-discoverer Peter Timm. (courtesy Richard Pyle)


1995-2003: Coelacanths discovered living off Madagascar and East Africa.


The Madagascar Coelacanths (article&picture)


Discovery of the Kenyan Coelacanth (article&picture)


The Curious Case of the Tanzania / Zanzibar Coelacanths (article and amazing pictures)



2009: Japanese locate and film first juvenile in natural habitat. (Indonesia)

The Fukushima Aquarium Expeditions


Phantoms of the Pacific- A New Home for coelacanths? undertook 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019 exploratory coelacanth reconnaissance expeditions to New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Andaman Islands (Indian Ocean)- according to some scientists, the Western Pacific is the possible ancestral home of all coelacanths. These six expeditions constitute the foundations of coelacanth research in the Western Pacific. The 2019 expedition was in conjunction with the Bishop Museum's mesotrophic reef survey.


Special Features:



A Brief Timeline of World and Coelacanth Events:

The Coelacanth Express

DOCUMENT Zoological Holy Grail : Expeditions in search of the Coelacanth (list)
DOCUMENT Scientific Turf Wars: The Coelacanth Controversies (article)

Coelacanth Poem: Instructions for Search


"Swimming in My Mind": Recollections of 30 years pursuing coelacanths around the World- Jerome Hamlin, creator of


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