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Japanese Researchers Capture Rare Prehistoric Fish On Film

November 17, 2009

A team of marine researchers from Japan reported on Tuesday they had found and successfully filmed a young coelacanth — a rare type of fish known as “a living fossil” — in deep water off Indonesia, AFP reported.

The researchers said that the creature was found on October 6 at a depth of 528 feet in Manado Bay off Sulawesi Island, where the Indonesian coelacanth was first discovered.

The 12.6-inch coelacanth, which is colored blue with white spots, was videotaped swimming slowly among rocks on the seabed for about 20 minutes.

Masamitsu Iwata, a researcher at Aquamarine Fukushima in Iwaki, northeast of Tokyo, said that as far as they know, it was the first ever video image of a living juvenile coelacanth, which is still shrouded in mystery.

The discovery could shed light on the habitat and breeding habits of coelacanths, a species that has been shrouded in mystery.

Iwata said his team used a remotely operated, self-propelled vehicle to film the coelacanth, which appeared to be newly born.

Researchers once discovered a similar-sized juvenile in the belly of a pregnant coelacanth.

Experts believe that the fish’s eggs hatch inside the female and the young fish are fully formed by the time they are born.

The coelacanths, which are commonly regarded as having evolved little from prehistoric times, were thought to be extinct until a living specimen was discovered in 1938 off the coast of southern Africa.

The fish has no real commercial value, apart from being coveted by museums and private collectors. As a food fish the coelacanth is almost worthless as its tissues exude oils even when dead, imparting the flesh with a foul flavor.

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