Of this rare handfish, which prefers to walk rather than swim, only two specimens are known. The last one, 25 years ago. Today we take a look at the third.
There are only 14 species of handfish, and 7 of them are endemic to the Tasmanian coast. They are all in danger of extinction. One of the most elusive is the narrow-bodied handfishPezichthys compressus), of which only two specimens are known.
The first was discovered in 1986, and the last in 1996. More than 25 years later, the voyage carried out by researcher RV (South-East Australia Marine Ecosystem Survey, SEA-MES) led by CSIRO, last July in Tasmania, has found the third narrow-bodied handfish. You can see it in the opening photo of the news.
A handfish is so named because use their fins as if they were hands (or feet)to walk on the seabed.
Dr. Candice Untiedt, a marine ecologist on board, identified the tiny, endangered creature on tow camera footage.
“I was very excited to find the handfish. I know that it is a rare and special fish. And that the chances of seeing one in this environment and capturing it on the deep-trawl camera are very slim. It is an important discovery,” he explains. the biologist.
This specimen was found at 292 meters deep, northeast of Flinders Island, in Tasmania (Australia). Although they are still not 100% sure of the species of handfish to which it belongs.
From the photo that you can see above, its morphology coincides with that of the two specimens captured from Pezichthys compressus:
However, the specimen sighted is much larger and it is about 100 kilometers away, with respect to the area where they found the other two fish.
But so little is known about this species that two specimens are useless for comparison.
It had been 25 years since this rare species of hand fish had been sighted, which is already a very difficult fish to see itself, because they are elusive and live at great depths. Great news for science and the environment.