Top Ten Coelacanth Bulletins Of 2009
by Loren Coleman
The coelacanth truly continued to be the “darling of cryptozoology” in 2009, with many noteworthy events associated with the species occurring all year.
Coelacanths, new species ethnoknown by local peoples before being “discovered” by Western science in 1938 (Latimeria chalumnae off the east coast of southern Africa, above) and in 1998 (Latimeria menadoensis off the shore of Sulawesi, Indonesia), kept giving us surprises throughout the last year.
Here are the highlights of the top ten news items:
1. The fourth Indonesian coelacanth, caught in 2008, went on public display at Sea World Indonesia in Jakarta, early in 2009.
2. On July 17, 2009, a pregnant coelacanth (length 176 cm –
weight 86.5 kg) was caught in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The female had 23 fully developed babies, 34 cm and 500 grams each, found internally.
3. An American cryptozoologist living in Japan, Brent Swancer discovered in August 2009, that a replica of the Indonesian species of coelacanth was being produced by Colorata exclusively for one Japanese aquarium.
4. Wild media rumors circulated in India, late in August 2009, of a coelacanth having been caught in the Ganges. The eventually published photograph (above) of the fish, however, showed it was a grouper, probably the orange-spotted grouper, Epinephelus coioides (Hamilton, 1822), found off the coastal areas of India.
5. On September 8, 2009, in a media exclusive from Cryptomundo, the bulletin was released that a new replica from Wild Safari would appear in early 2010 of a six-inch figurine of the African species of the coelacanth. Safari, Ltd. is a respected American/French model maker of museum quality replicas found in museum shops, aquariums, and toy stores worldwide.
6. Dan Brown’s new book, The Lost Symbol was published with grand fanfare on September 15, 2009, and included a plot that involved the Smithsonian’s coelacanth and giant squid. In An Illustrated Guide to The Lost Symbol, an anthology edited by John Weber, you will find a cryptozoology contribution detailing the background on the coelacanth in Brown’s novel.
7. On September 16, 2009, the fifth Indonesian coelacanth was captured in Talise Island (North Sulawesi) in the Likupang sub district.
8. Scientists from the Fukushima Aquarium finished their ROV-coelacanth-expedition in Indonesia with breaking news in coelacanth research. For the first time in history, a juvenile coelacanth with an estimated length –
measured with a laser – of 31.5 cm was filmed on video by ROV on October 6, 2009, in Manado region of Indonesia at a depth of 161 meters. Earlier, during this same expedition, the team had filmed six coelacanths in one of the region’s cave.
9. On October 17, 2009, news came from the Comoro Islands that a coelacanth was caught at Momodju, Domoni, Anjouan. This specimen was 140 cm in length and weighted 33 kg.
10. On November 1, 2009, the International Cryptozoology Museum, which has within its Duncan Hopkins-designed logo the coelacanth as its trademarked symbol, opened in Portland, Maine. Teeshirts (high-quality screened by artist Tristan Gallagher) with the coelacanth design are the number one fundraiser supporting the museum. The museum contains exhibits detailing the history of the coelacanth, including stamps & coins depicting coelacanths, original coelacanth art, a lifesize wall-mounted fiberglass African model, replicas of the Indonesian species, and movie collectibles from the 1954 film, Creature from the Black Lagoon, which was inspired by the 1952 discovery of the “second” African coelacanth.
My thanks for assistance with this information from coelacanthologists Rik Nulens, Jerry Hamlin, and Robin Stobbs, plus cryptozoology news informants Philip Burns and Brent Swancer. Stamp images courtesy of Pib Burns.
Thank you, and come visit the museum at 661 Congress Street, Portland, Maine 04101.