Zwemmen met Coelacanths

Marjorie Courtinay-Latimer was the young curator of a natural history museum on South Africa’s east coast. Shortly before Christmas in 1938, local fishermen brought her a fish unlike any they’d ever seen. Caught at a depth of 240 feet, it was five feet long, covered in bony scales and had fins reminiscent of legs. It was a coelacanth. There was just one catch: Coelacanths were extinct, and had been for 70 million years.

In 1986, German explorer and then-freelance photographer Hans Fricke convinced a magazine editor to send him and a submarine to the Comoros Islands. Since then he’s led more than 400 dives, helping to produce much of what is now known about coelacanths.

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