Monday, May 01, 2006

Illustration Friday- under the sea - coelacanth

The Illustration Friday topic this week seemed like deja vu -as 'sea' has been a topic before . Not that the sea ever bores me and I suppose i often come back to sea topics, even when the subject is something different because the sea is such a huge influence on me.

Last year , I was bitten by the underwater photography bug and I am keen to get a digital camera for this summer's snorkelling trips. I think examining the photos critically afterwards added another dimension to my fish paintings as it helped with really remembering the textures and light effects of being in the water.

One fish that i'd been pondering on painting for a while is the coelacanth. Coelacanths are one of the big mysteries of the sea and a favourite of cryptozoologists.

They were originally known from fossils dating back to 360 million years ago and thought to have become extinct about 80 million years ago.

In 1938 a coelacanth was discovered in South Africa by Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, a museum curator who was actively looking for unusual fish specimens in the local fish catches.. The 'new' coelacanth was called Latimeria chalumnae in her honour.

Fourteen years later another specimen was discovered in sea near the Comoro Islands in the Indian Ocean - although it turned out that the local people had known about the coelacanth, which they called gombessa, for generations but found it to be nearly indedible and therefore worthless.
Since then other coelacanths have been found in Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania
and a completely separate species found near the island of Sulawesi [Indonesia] which is brown rather than speckled blue, Latimeria menadoensis.
This Indonesian species was also well known to the local fishermen and called rajah laut -the King of the Sea.


They are still quite mysterious fish -and have some unusual characteristics.
Coelacanths can slow their metabolisms to an almost hibernation state , swim backwards and even upside down.

They can grow to about 2 metres [6 feet] in length and bear live young - only a few at a time , and they are considered critically endangered animals.



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9 comments:

Rachelle said...

Great idea for the topic! :D I gave a speech on cryptozoology in class once. The coelacanth had a part in it too. Anyway, nice drawing! I love the detail in it. He even looks like he's smiling a little. lol

AscenderRisesAbove said...

Beutiful illustration

morealyera said...

I learned about Coelacanths in my marine biology class. They are fascinating. I love your illustration! the textures and shading are wonderful, and the face is adorable! Nice job. :)

Jeanette Jobson said...

Fabulous colours in this creature. They are quite appealing. Great job!

atomicvelvetsigh said...

Wonderful illo! and thanks for this informative post! Your work looked so great it should be placed on history books too..

irvine said...

ohh I love dinosaurs.. maybe someday I will learn this in school too. And when I do, I will remember you!

hihi ^_^ huggss

HARDWAX said...

Beautiful work! Informative, interesting reading as well. Love all the deep blue and skill you exhibit in rendering of the Coelacanths.

carla said...

Your illustration showcases the mysterious nature of the coelacanth...it swims alone in the dark depths of the sea. The detail ln its fins and body is subtle and fine - and the treatment of light really makes this look underwater. And - as always, a fascinating post!

frank h said...

great stuff
the story and the drawing

congrats!