A picture of a Spotted Handfish.

Are handfish walking towards extinction?

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. (5:33)

  • 21 May 2010

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Handfish are a type of small, often strikingly patterned or colourful 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 only exist off eastern and southern Australia.

There are only 14 known species of handfish, nine of which were described recently.

These new species are in the same family as the already endangered Spotted Handfish and are described in a review of the handfish family by Daniel Gledhill and Peter Last, Hobart-based fish taxonomists from the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship.

In this podcast Daniel Gledhill explains why handfishes are extremely vulnerable to environmental change, and how CSIRO is working to better understand the role of Australia as a refuge for this once global fish.