Scientists believed that coelacanth, a four-legged prehistoric fish, had gone extinct 420 million years ago. That is until a group of shark hunters found one just off the coast of Madagascar. 

In a report by a non-profit environmental platform Mongabay News, the media outlet confirms that a group of South African shark hunters found the rare catch. 

The Ancient Fish

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Workers at the National Museum of Kenya show a coelacanth caught by Kenyan fishermen in 2001.

Coelacanths are carnivorous fish that can grow more than 6 meters long and weigh around 198 pounds. 

In addition, the fish has lobed, paired fins that can extend away from its body. In fact, its alternating fin pattern resembles a horse galloping. The ancient fish also has a peculiar spot pattern found on its entire body. 

Experts believe that the rare fish existed around 420 million years ago and had died along with the dinosaurs during the great extinction. 

Interestingly, experts claim that this is not the first time that they found a coelacanth alive. Researchers note that the last sighting was in 1938 on the South African coast. Since then, researchers have believed that the four-legged creatures might have given way to the development of modern amphibians. 

Shark Hunting Threatens Habitat

However, experts are concerned that shark hunting threatens the survival of ancient marine species. Usually, hunters would often use high-tech gillnets that can reach 328 to 492 feet below the water’s surface

 According to a study published by the Journal of Science, the authors believe that “The jarifa gillnets used to catch sharks are a relatively new and more deadly innovation as they are large and can be set in deep water.” 

The study also cites that Madagascar might have been a habitat for several coelacanth species. Currently, experts are lobbying for the preservation of its habitat. 

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Prehistoric Fish, Coelacanth Found Alive By Shark Hunters 3

However, local government researchers disagreed that shark hunting can threaten the coelacanth population. Moreover, they do not believe that the discovery can lead to exploitation of the rare marine species fish. 

In a statement by Madagascan government marine researcher Paubert Tsimanaoraty Mahatante,  “Catching a coelacanth is totally uncommon.” He argues that “people are in some ways even afraid to catch something that is so uncommon.” The researcher also disagrees that hunters are targeting coelacanths deliberately.