Celencato, an authentic living fossil of the oceans, is threatened by the expansion of oil exploration areas, warn environmental experts. The Guardian newspaper collected the opinions of two of them that explain the reasons for concern about the future of this species that survived the dinosaurs.
At the beginning of the 20th century, scientists who studied the fossil remains of the coelacanth believed that it was an extinct marine fauna of the Cretaceous period. However, in 1938 a fishing boat brought to the port of New London, located in present-day South Africa, the first living specimen of this gigantic fish.
Later, other sporadic cases occurred in the Comoros Islands, Tanzania and Indonesia, where some specimens were caught, but the only confirmed colony was seen near the South African coasts, in an underwater canyon. It is very small and now environmentalists try to protect it.
One of them, the manager of the group Wildlands Conservation Trust Andrew Venter, points out that the said colony is 40 kilometres from the northern limit of the exploration area of the Italian oil company Eni. The drilling is currently 200 kilometres from its habitat, but the oil fields are expanding rapidly.
“The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 decimated fish stocks,” Venter said in a statement to the British newspaper. And he warned that if there is a spill of oil in that area in eastern South Africa, “it is very likely that it will kill the coelacanths .”
Ichthyologist Mike Bruton shared this concern because the fish, he said, are creatures “sensitive to environmental disturbances.”
“Anything that interferes with their ability to absorb oxygen, such as oil pollution, would threaten their survival,” he warned. He also said that a special danger comes from the works of the oil company in block ER236, which is closest to the canyon where the celacanths are located.
“The risk must be meticulously evaluated before the commercial project has gone too far and it is too late,” the expert defended.
Currently, only 30 specimens of this relict fish are known worldwide, most of which have been recorded near the coasts of South Africa.
Source: Ecos del Combeima