MANADO, Indonesia An Indonesian fisherman has
caught a coelacanth, an ancient fish once thought to have
become extinct at the time of the dinosaurs, a fishery expert
said on Monday.
Yustinus Lahama and his son caught the fish on Saturday in
the sea off North Sulawesi province and kept it at their house
for an hour, said Grevo Gerung, a professor at the fisheries
faculty at the Sam Ratulangi University.
After being told by neighbours it was a rare fish he took
it back to the sea and kept it in a quarantine pool for about
17 hours before it died.
"If kept outside their habitat (60 metres or 200 ft below
the sea), the fish can only live for two hours. But this fish
lived for about 17 hours," Gerung told Reuters.
"We will look into why it had lived that long," he said.
The fish was 131 centimetres (about four feet) long and
weighed 51 kg (112 lb), Gerung said.
In 1998, fishermen a caught another coelacanth in a
deep-water shark net off northern Sulawesi.
That catch came 60 years after a member of the species was
rediscovered on the east coast of South Africa.
Coelacanths are known from the fossil records dating back
more than 360 million years, according to the Australian Museum
Fish Web site.
Before 1938 they were believed to have become extinct
approximately 80 million years ago, when they disappeared from
the fossil record, it said.
Coelacanths are the only living animals to have a fully
functional intercranial joint, which is a division separating
the ear and brain from the nasal organs and eye.