National Geographic : 2011 Mar
AFRICA ASIA AUSTRALIA ANTARCTICA INDIAN OCEAN South Africa, 1938 Madagascar, 1995 Indonesia, 1997 Comoros, 1952 Sodwana Bay, South Africa, 2000 Mozambique, 1991 Tanzania, 2003 Kenya, 2001 Coelacanth discoveries, by year It's not every day that a living fossil shows up in a fisherman's net. But that's what happened in , when a South African museum curator named Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer spied a bizarre creature with thick scales, unusual ns, and an ex- tra lobe on its tail, amid an otherwise ordinary haul of sh. ough she didn't know it straightaway, Courtenay-Latimer had rediscovered the coelacanth, which was assumed to have died out at the end of the Cretaceous period but some- how outlasted many of its prehistoric peers, dwelling deep in the ocean, undisturbed---and undetected---for eons. Since this chance sighting, Latimeria chalumnae have been found in several pockets in the Indian Ocean. No one knows how many there are---maybe as few as , or as many as ,. Because of the depth of their habitat, they have mainly been photographed by submersibles and re- motely operated vehicles. Divers rst documented the sh in ; in January and February , a specially trained team dived deep to take pictures of a small colony in Sod- wana Bay, South Africa. ---Carolyn Butler Coelacanth Realm The elusive fish has been found along the coast of East Africa. The largest known group--- or so---lives near the island nation of Comoros. In , a honeymooning U.S. marine biologist stumbled upon another species, Latimeria menadoensis, rolling by on a cart at an Indonesian market. Photographs by Laurent Ballesta French biologist and prize-winning photographer Laurent Ballesta co-authored the documentary e Science of Shark Sex.