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Handfish is a generic name which accounts for 14 species in the coastal waters of southern Australia and Tasmania. Handfish are known for moving around by walking on the sea floor rather than swimming, with their highly modified fins which resemble hands, thus lending them their name.

It all started when a member of the public reported seeing an individual handfish. This sent divers and biologists on a frantic search. After two days, the teams were almost ready to give up the search, when they finally found one. IMAS Technical Officer Antonia Cooper spotted the first fish when she had all but abandoned hope. We were diving for approximately three and a half hours and at about the two hour mark we were all looking at each other thinking this is not looking promising,” Ms Cooper said. “My dive partner went to tell the other divers that we were going to start heading in and I was half-heartedly flicking algae around when, lo and behold, I found a red handfish.

Finding a new population that is definitely distinct from the existing one is very exciting. It means there’s potentially a bigger gene pool and also that there are potentially other populations out there that we’re yet to find, so it’s very exciting indeed,” Ms Cooper added.Finding a new population that is definitely distinct from the existing one is very exciting. It means there’s potentially a bigger gene pool and also that there are potentially other populations out there that we’re yet to find, so it’s very exciting indeed,” Ms Cooper added.My dive partner went to tell the other divers that we were going to start heading handfish.