Coelacanth in a tank

I grew up reading about the coelacanth and about how it had been rediscovered in 1938 when it was thought to have become extinct millions of years ago.  When I first saw this specimen, in the NHM a mere few decades ago, my first reaction was an almost child-like wonder.  Here in the actual flesh was this living fossil (well, this example wasn't living, obvs...).  It was a solid, primitive, heavy-looking fish and looking at it felt like looking at a living dinosaur.  Yes, I know...  It is fair to say it was not an underwhelming fossil fish, that month or any other month.

My second reaction was that it actually looks rather sorry for itself.  Like everything else that has been 'pickled' the way this one has, it has become pale and colourless over time. It  didn't help, from a photography point of view, that of course you're trying not to photograph the reflections on the glass at the same time.  I didn't have a camera with me the first time I saw it, but when I went back to the NHM early last year to spend a little quality time with the marine reptiles, I also made a point of looking for the coelacanth again.

Looking at the photo again (it's another one I dug out looking to see what to back up on the Famous Photo-Sharing Website), it seems only right to make it monochrome rather than leave the poor creature looking as washed out as it is in its tank.  It's not a technically good photo by any means but to me it is evocative.


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