Nine new species of handfish have been described by CSIRO in research that highlights an urgent need to better understand and protect the diversity of life in Australia’s oceans.
The review of the handfishes brings the family to 14 known species – six found only in Tasmania and one known from only one specimen possibly collected in Tasmania by early European explorers, yet not recorded since. It also deepens concerns about declining populations of some handfishes. “Handfishes are small, often strikingly patterned or colourful, sedentary fish that tend to ‘walk’ on the seabed on hand-like fins, rather than swim. Fifty million-years ago, they ‘walked’ the world’s oceans, but now they exist only off eastern and southern Australia,“ Mr Gledhill says.