Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 6th, 2009
John Yeld, Environment and Science Writer, is reporting that the fifth specimen of an Asian species of the coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis), discovered in 1997-1998, was recently captured alive off Indonesia.
“A local newspaper reported that the specimen, which measured 114cm, was caught on September 16 and collected by a scientist from Indonesia’s Sam Ratulangi University for further examination. It died on the way to the university.
“Two days previously, Indonesian marine scientists and officials from an aquarium in Japan had photographed another coelacanth in nearby waters – their second sighting in two years in this region.
South African scientist and coelacanth expert Professor Mike Bruton expressed “concern about the involvement of the aquarium team, saying he and other scientists believed that they were trying to capture a live specimen for display in Japan.”
Coelacanths are listed under Appendix 1 of Cites (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) and no commercial trade of any kind is permitted for such species.
The better known and more comprehensively studied coelacanth species is Latimeria chalumnae, which has been found in waters off the Comoros, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar and Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu-Natal.
Belgian researcher Rik Nulens has recorded in his database 285 individuals of this species caught since 1938: one each from South Africa, Mozambique and Kenya; eight from Madagascar; 59 from Tanzania; and the rest – 215 – from the Comoros.
Original information noted here was first published on page 11 of Cape Argus on September 23, 2009, and just made it to my attention.
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