RESCUE MISSION

 
The Coelacanth Rescue Mission is an outgrowth of several coelacanth expeditions to the Comoro Islands originated in the 1980's by members of the Explorers Club under the direction of Jerome Hamlin, author of this web site. Our mission has been to help reduce coelacanth fatalities (there may only be a few hundred living coelacanths left in the Comoros, 50 or so off of South Africa, and future Indonesian specimen by-catches will be kept dead for research) by distributing a Deep Release Kit to the local fishermen who accidentally catch about nine of the fish each year in the Comoros.

   Coelacanths caught by local fisherman live for only ten or so hours on the surface of the ocean if the fisherman does not pull them ashore and kill them immediately.The cause of mortality is believed to be a combination of capture stress and over heating resulting in asphyxiation. (The surface waters are some 20 degrees F warmer than where the coelacanth lives.)

   The Deep Release Kit, first suggested by Raymond Waldner, a visitor to this site, in response to the Save the Coelacanth Contest, consists of a barbless hook attached to a sack. The fisherman puts some of his sinker stones in the sack, places the hook in the lower jaw of the fish he has just caught with the shank pointing down to the sack, and releases the fish to the bottom where it frees itself. (See the diagrams in the T-Shirt section).

   The purpose of the Deep Release proceedure is to get the fish quickly to the cold bottom water with no further exertion on its part. (A surface release leaves the fish without the strength to get back down 600ft!)

   This is now the only direct means of conserving coelacanths. (Have a look at the Deep Release T-shirt section in the Coelashop and the new Type II release kits shown on the news page.) With hundreds of these kits distributed, we are now assisting the construction of a Coelacanth Research and Awareness Center at a fishing village at the edge of the sea, only hundreds of feet from the underwater coelacanth caves! (see photos in news section.)

 

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