The coelacanth is a fish which was believed to have been extinct since the Cretaceous period. However, in 1938 a curator of a museum found a coelacanth in a catch of fish of a trawler off the coast of South Africa. Since then, they have been noted to appear in Comoros, Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar, and even in Indonesia. The fish is blue with silver markings and grows to over six and a half feet long. Its population is estimated to be at a number of around 500
The fish was discovered (found) by the crew of the trawler 'Nerine", not by the curator, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, of the East London Museum - she made sure it was saved for science! Coelacanths are also found in South Africa and Kenya and it is steel blue/grey with white to pale pink spots and blotches in patterns unique to the individual. The population is unknown - the estimate of 500 or less was guesswork following surveys in the Comoro Islands. It is quite clear that, although nowhere abundant, the coelacanth is widely distributes throughout the western Indian Ocean.
Not really. In 1995, results from a dive counted about 40 coelacanths. The number has changed since then, but coelacanths are still nowhere near abundant. South African fisherman who fish for oilfish sometimes catch a coelacanth by accident. Without the strength to swim hundreds of meters back to their habitat, they usually die. Some of them get sold to scientists. As far as we know, coelacanths are very rare. Prior to around 1940, we thought they were extinct. They are still in danger.
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