Fish with Hands Discovered, But Species Face Extinction

Credit: CSIRO

These fish, pardon the pun, need a hand. There are 14 species of fish with hand-like fins. And nine are in danger of extinction. Don't you hate it when you discover something amazing, only to find out that it's almost gone? Even though Endangered Species Day was just a few days ago, it's always amazing to learn of new species that are endangered. Such is the case here. CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia, says nine new species of handfish are described in research that says there's an urgent need to better understand and protect the diversity of life in our oceans. The Pink Handfish, shown above, is one of the newly named species. It's known from only four specimens and was last recorded off the Tasman Peninsula in 1999.

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The Spotted Handfish is listed as endangered

"Handfishes are small, often strikingly patterned or colourful, sedentary fish that tend to 'walk' on the seabed on hand-like fins, rather than swim," according to Daniel Gledhill, a taxonomist with the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship.

"Fifty million-years ago, they 'walked' the world's oceans, but now they exist only off eastern and southern Australia."

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The Red Handfish is listed as vulnerable.

What's going on? Peter Last from CSIRO says handfish are extremely vulnerable to environmental change, including introduced species, pollution, siltation, fishing, sea-temperature rise and coastal development.

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The Zeibell's handfish

More on the nine handfish is available in a CSIRO podcast.

To learn more about endangered species, play the Know Your Endangered Species quiz on Planet Green.

And for more interesting sea life, check out Sharks Can Become Invisible
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Tags: Endangered Species | Fish | Oceans

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