For the first time in 22 years, a rare “walking” handfish, which is exclusively found in Australia, has been discovered off the coast of Tasmania.
The pink handfish was last observed in 1999 by a diver off the coast of Tasmania, and it has only been seen four times since then.
Officials recently classified it as endangered, fearing for its survival.
However, Australian researchers claim to have discovered it again, this time on a deep-sea video recording captured in a marine park earlier this year.
The fish can now be seen in deeper and more open waters than before.
Scientists originally thought the fish lived in shallow water in sheltered coves, but it was discovered at a depth of 150 metres (390 feet) off Tasmania’s wild south coast.
The species possesses oversized hands with which they walk along the bottom in addition to swimming, as its name suggests.
In February, his team deployed a baited camera on the seafloor of the Tasman Fracture Marine Park to analyse the coral, lobster, and fish species that live there. The protected park, which spans an area larger than Switzerland, is known for a massive crack in the earth’s crust that has allowed marine life to be discovered at depths of about 4,000 metres.
In October, a research assistant sifting through the tape noticed the strange species among the mass of larger creatures drawn to the bait. The 15cm fish emerges from a ledge after being disturbed by a rock lobster, according to the view. It looks around for a few seconds, inquisitive about the noise, before swimming away.
Associate Prof. Barrett told the ABC, “It’s given us an excellent head-on piece of imagery to absolutely conclusively identify the species and measure its size in that period.”
The pink handfish is one of 14 different types of handfish found in Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost state.