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Rare Walking Fish Population Down to Just 79

posted: 08/28/15
by: Discovery News
Spotted handfish
Barry Bruce, CSIRO via Wikimedia Commons

The spotted handfish, a tiny, bottom-dwelling creature that walks, after a fashion, on its fins on the sea floor, is in deep trouble, with just 79 left, according to a recent survey.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the worrisome population count was taken by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

The handfish survives today only in Tasmanian waters, in the Hobart's Derwent estuary. The hand count has researchers considering urgent methods to keep the species alive.

"It would be very prudent to think about captive breeding of the fish at this stage," CSIRO researcher Tim Lynch told the newspaper. "We're organising a workshop to cost it out, and see what we can do."

Related: This Invasive Fish Can Live Out of Water and Walk on Land -- And Experts are Concerned

In the video below, you can see the fish "walking."

Researchers theorize the critically endangered fish's perilous situation is due to a seastar wreaking havoc with its habitat and reproduction efforts. The handfish uses its habitat to camouflage its eggs, and then it watches over them. But the seastar is eating away at the scenery, leaving the handfish and its eggs vulnerable to predators.

Local environmental changes to the fish's habitat also seem to be playing a role.

via The Sydney Morning Herald

This article originally appeared on Discovery News

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