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Fishermen in Madagascar discovers 420-million-year-old fish after it fell inside a shark hunters’ nets off the coast

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Shark hunters who are engaged in the business of trafficking the fins and oil of these sea predators, captured in their nets a strange species of “ghost” fish that for many years was believed to be extinct.

This “fossil fish” is approximately 420 million years old and dates back to the Cretaceous period. His capture occurred near the southwest coast of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean, according to Mongabay, a website with scientific and environmental content.

The species is known as “coelacanths” and its scientific name is Latimeria chalumnae, they are fish that inhabit caves located in deep waters, between 150 and 500 meters deep. They have eight fins: two dorsal, two pectoral, two pelvic, one anal and one caudal.

Seeing or capturing them is something really strange, but thanks to these shark fin dealers, who venture to more distant and deeper waters in search of sharks, their catches are more and more frequent.

About 82 years ago, the first of these creatures was caught alive off the coast of South Africa, world news as the species was believed to be forever extinct . A “living four-legged fossil fish” had apparently returned from the dead, he said at the time, something truly remarkable.

In the decades that followed, more of these rare and unusual fish were caught off the coasts of South Africa, Tanzania and the Comoros Islands; and a different species of coelacanth appeared in Indonesian waters.

According to researchers cited by the portal such as Andrew Cooke and Michael Burton, co-authors of a study that accounts for the captures of these animals during the last decades, at least 34 of them have been caught between 1987 and 2019.

The researchers note that the booming market for shark fins, especially in China, prompted fishermen on the southwestern coast of Madagascar to start placing ever-larger mesh gillnets known as jarifas in the deep waters.

This method of fishing has resulted in the capture of coelacanths, in addition to the desired sharks.

This has a very ancient species in serious danger of extinction whose existence in itself is a surprise.

According to Cooke and Burton, today Madagascar is the epicenter of the coelacanth’s distribution and that despite the figures that they have corroborated themselves, they believe that at least 100 coelacanths have been captured off its coasts in recent years.

“There is no doubt that large mesh gillnets are now the greatest threat to the survival of coelacanths in Madagascar,” they noted.

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