12:14 PM PDT, May 21, 2021
A rare fish species that was believed to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs actually isn’t, and has been spotted officially again for the first time in more than 80 years, People reported. The coelacanth species has been rediscovered alive in the West Indian Ocean by chance.
A group of South African shark hunters recently found the species that dates back 420 million years, according to Mongabay, a US-based non-profit conservation and environmental science news platform.
The species usually resides 100 to 500 meters below the surface and lives in undersea canyons. The species, first rediscovered in 1938 by marine fishers off the coast of Madagascar, is still considered critically endangered, according to reports.
A new study in the SA Journal of Science notes that there have been at least 334 reports of coelacanth captured as of May 2020.
“When we looked into this further, we were astounded [by the numbers caught]… even though there has been no proactive process in Madagascar to monitor or conserve coelacanths,” lead study author Andrew Cooke told Mongabay.
The species remains in danger due to shark hunting as the nets used to catch sharks can be set in deep sea water.
“There is little doubt that large mesh jarifa gill-nets are now the biggest threat to the survival of coelacanths in Madagascar,” researchers said.