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  • Thursday 18th January 2018

SEA LIFE Melbourne is now home to one of the rarest fish species in Australia, the Spotted Handfish, in a partnership that will help ensure the survival of this incredible aquatic animal.

The Spotted Handfish is a rare bottom dwelling fish species that is endemic to the cooler waters of Tasmania. The small fish is visually unique and unusual – with distinctive spots and hand-like fins that help it ‘walk’ along the seabed, rather than swim. However these critically endangered fish are at high risk to marine dangers including pollution, dredging, introduced species and coastal development and their population is currently in decline.

To help this vulnerable species, SEA LIFE Melbourne is taking the first steps in a captive breeding program – a conservation effort to create a safe and secure population of the Spotted Handfish, away from environmental threats.  Longer-term, this initiative may also see captive bred fish re-introduced to Tasmanian waters.

SEA LIFE Melbourne is now exhibiting a small group of Spotted Handfish that are ambassadors for the species to raise awareness about the issues they face, while collecting valuable information on this little known species that will be critical to any future breeding programs. This initiative is a partnership with CSIRO, the Zoo and Aquarium Association, the National Environmental Science Program and Seahorse World in Tasmania.

SEA LIFE Melbourne Head Curator, Paul Hale, said “We’re extremely proud to be a partner in this conservation program to help save this Australian aquatic animal. The Spotted Handfish is a unique and endearing fish that has a lot of character so we’re excited to learn more about how we can support its population while also providing a unique opportunity for visitors to see this rare species”.

The Spotted Handfish exhibit officially launched at SEA LIFE Melbourne today and visitors can now see these fascinating animals up close.