A group of scientists have found a small population of fish that walk along the seabed off Australia's south coast in Tasmania.
The fish species, the Red Handfish (Thymichthys politus) is only found in south-eastern Tasmania, an isolated island state, which is one of the few places on the planet that is home to rare and unique endangered species.
Key Highlights of the Discovery
• Till last week only about 20 to 40 of them were identified in Tasmania’s Frederick Henry Bay.
• The new group also comprising 20 to 40 fishes inhabits a small area whose location the researchers decided not to disclose until the conservation plan for the area was discussed.
• The first-ever sighting of the Red Handfish is reported to be in the 19th century near Port Arthur, in Tasmania.
• The habitat of this second colony of handfish is small, within a radius of 20 metres, because instead of swimming the fishes walk on the seafloor.
• The fish measures between 6 and 13.5 cm long.
The finding was made last week during a reef life survey, conducted by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies of the University of Tasmania, after the fish were spotted by a private individual.
Significance of the discovery
The new habitat is different from the first population. So, it shows that the fish are not critically dependent on a particular set of local conditions.
The handfish have an elongated body and use their pectoral fins in an unusual manner to walk slowly over the sea bottom in search of food such as crustaceans and worms.