Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ancient Fish from Jurassic era caught in North Sulawesi

© WWF-Indonesia, 2007

On Saturday, May 19 2007, a fisherman found a King of the Sea, an ancient fish biologically known as Coelacanth latemeria, in his fishing line in Malalayang Beach, North Sulawesi. It was the second fish found in North Sulawesi after the first finding in 1998 in Manado Tua Beach. The coelacanth has 130 cm length, 46 cm width and weighs 50 kg. Yustinus Lahama and his son Delfi Lahama, who found the fish are fishermen from Malalayang.

Yustinus and his son went out fishing for their family consumption. Only 5 minutes after putting his line, he felt it has hit a big thing. He withdrew the line and found a big weird looking fish with white color spots hooked in his bait. Yustinus said "The fish was calm when it was brought on board, but then it moved violently that destroyed things on the boat."

© WWF-Indonesia
He didn't know what he has found, and was about to cut and cook the fish. Fortunately Darwin Papendeng an employee at Faculty of Engineering of Sam Ratulangi University, came and prevented Yustinus from consuming it. Darwin Papendeng recognized the fish as Coelacanth, and contacted the Provincial Fisheries Agency, Tourism Agency, and mass media in North Sulawesi to inform about the discovery of coelacanth.

This event has drew attentions from the Governor of North Sulawesi, Drs. Sinyo H. Sarundajang and Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fishery, Mr. Freddy Numberi who was in Manado at that moment. First, they put the coelacanth in Bahu Mall, then they moved it to a safer aquarium in City Extra Kalasey Restaurant.

"It inspired Sarundajang to make this fish as the mascot for World Ocean Conference in Manado in the year 2009," said Angelique Batuna, WWF-Indonesia Project Leader Bunaken Program.

© WWF-Indonesia
Unfortunately the coelacanth could stand only for 17 hours, and died at 1 a.m Sunday. It is now in the process of preservation.

To further observe and preserve the fish, the government will invite an icthyologist (fish expert) and will launch the results in a press conference next week.

The first known about the fabulous Coelacanth ("see-la-kanth"), that 400 million years old "living fossil" fish, swims on. Pre-dating the dinosaurs by millions of years and once thought to have gone extinct with them, 65 million years ago, the Coelacanth with its "missing link" "proto legs" was "discovered" alive and well in 1938. An adult Coelacanth can grow at least to 200 cm in length and weigh 100 kg.

© WWF-Indonesia
On December 23, 1938, Hendrik Goosen, the captain of the trawler Nerine returned to the harbour at East London after a trawl around the mouth of the Chalumna River. As he frequently did, he telephoned his friend, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, curator at East London's small museum to see if she wanted to look over the contents of the catch for anything interesting. Coelacanths live usually found at depths of 150m below sea level, in Komoro Archipelago. In 1990, a few Coelacanths were caught in Mozambique, Madagaskar, and South Africa Waters. On July 30 1998, a Coelacanth and called it raja laut was caught in a deep-water shark net by local fishers off the volcanic island of Manado Tua in northern Sulawesi, Indonesia. This is about 10 000 km east of the Western Indian Ocean Coelacanth population. The fisher brought the fish to the house of American biologist Mark Erdmann who along with his wife Arnaz had seen a specimen in the outdoor markets the previous September. The local people were familiar with the or 'king of the sea'.

On January 18 1980, Coelacanths are considered to be endangered and are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). The word of Coelacanth is from Yunnan, coelia: cavity and acanthus: spine, it is a large marine lobe-finned fish. Ika Rachmatika S and friends from Biology Research Centre LIPI tell about different of morphology and genetic character both Coelacanths latimeria chalumnae from Komoro and Coelacanths latimeria menadoensis from Manado.

Different of Latimeria chalumnae (Kepulauan Komoro) and Latimeria menadoensis (Manado)
Kind of differenceLatimeria chalumnaeLatimeria menadoensis
1. morphology and genetic characterScale of fish is blue with white pock.Scale of fish is brown with white pock.
2. meristic characterIt has many back flipper scales and less tail flipper scale.It has less back flipper scale and many tail flipper scales.

Numerous characteristics are unique to the coelacanth among living fishes. Among them is the presence of a "rostral organ" in the snout that is part of the electro sensory system, and an intracranial joint or "hinge" in the skull that allows the anterior portion of the cranium to swing upwards, greatly enlarging the gape of the mouth. Neither of these characters exists in any other living vertebrate. Other unique anatomical features include a hollow fluid-filled "notochord" (a primitive feature in vertebrates) underlying the spinal cord and extending the length of the body.

Teresia Prahesti

From various sources

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