walk across the bottom using their fins like hands.
Whether significant changes have occurred to the sedimentary habitats previously occupied by spotted handfish
has not been investigated.
Research into the breeding and biology of the tiny spotted handfish may save from extinction the first Australian marine fish listed as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Protection Act.
Until the mid 1980s, the handfish was common throughout the lower Derwent Estuary and adjoining bays and channels, but has since declined in distribution and abundance.
Caption: The spotted handfish
takes its name from the long, flared shape of its pectoral fins.
Clockwise from top left: Pinocchio frog [no scientific name yet]; Pink handfish
[no scientific name yet]; Simpsons or "Mr.
It was one of the first Australian fishes discovered by science: the only known specimen of the smooth handfish
and one of three handfishes
collected in 1802 during a French expedition led by Captain Nicolas Baudin.
The Tasmania spotted handfish
, giant cuttlefish and Australian sea lion live in Australia's southern oceans--85 per cent of the fish species and up to 95 per cent of other marine groups live nowhere else and earn the region its name of 'unique south'.
The stars of the show range from the bizarre, such as the handfish
, a creature that uses its fins to walk on, and the beautiful, like the exotic leafy sea dragons.
There's the odd handfish
that uses its fins to walk and the cute-as-a-button Californian sea otters.
A starfish from the Northwestern Pacific has invaded the Tasmanian coast; it is threatening local shellfish industries and endangering the native spotted handfish
- which could become the first known marine fish to go extinct during the historic era (although there have likely been undocumented extinctions).
On the upper Derwent River, the issues are loss of vegetation, pesticide and nutrient runoff from agriculture, salinity, erosion and the resulting decline of native species all along the river, down to the critically endangered spotted handfish
in its estuary.