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The Elusive Coelacanth

The Elusive Coelacanth

 The Elusive Coelacanth


IN April 2001, a female coelacanth (pronounced see-la-kanth) was caught off the coast of Kenya. * The fish was five feet [1.7 m] long and weighed 170 pounds [77 kg]. The coelacanth is identified by its three-lobed tail and blue color with white dots.

It was once believed that the coelacanth had become extinct in the distant past. Then, in 1938, a coelacanth was caught off the South African coast. This discovery was one of the most amazing zoological finds of the 20th century. Until then, the fish was known only from fossil records. Since the first catch, other coelacanths have been sighted near Mozambique and Madagascar. Sizable populations have also been found in the Comoro Islands.

Female coelacanths do not lay eggs that hatch in water. Instead, they are ovoviviparous​—producing eggs that develop and hatch within the female’s body or immediately after extrusion. Seventeen such eggs​—each the size of a tennis ball—​were retrieved from the female caught last year.

Sea creatures like the coelacanth magnify the diversity and wisdom of their Creator, Jehovah God.​—Psalm 148:7.


^ par. 3 The name coelacanth is derived from the Greek words koilos (hollow) and akantha (spine), describing the fish’s hollow fin spines.

[Picture Credit Line on page 23]

Photo and drawings: Ichthyology Department/NATIONAL MUSEUMS OF KENYA