Marine Biology

, Volume 120, Issue 2, pp 171-180

First online:

Home range and migrations of the living coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae

  • H. FrickeAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Verhaltensphysiologie
  • , K. HissmannAffiliated withMax-Planck-Institut für Verhaltensphysiologie

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The home range system of the coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae was investigated along 11 km coastline at Grande Comore, Western Indian Ocean, between 1987 and 1991. 67 individuals were identified on individual white dot patterns. The home range consisted of daytime caves where fish aggregated in groups of up to 14 individuals while at night individuals moved singly downwards to a depth of 250 to 300 m in search of food. Site fidelity of at least 5 yr was found. The coelacanths used several caves within their home ranges. Cave size, cave occupation rate, average and maximum group size and cave preferences were studied. Tracking experiments with ultrasonic transmitters revealed horizontal home ranges of at least 8 km width. Population estimates of 200 to 230 individuals at Grande Comore confirm earlier counts. Large home ranges and highly mobility in a topographically narrow habitat apparently favoured inbreeding of the small local island population.