Friday, 22 September 2017

CSIRO breeds spotted handfish to save species from extinction

Fish, which is endemic to Tasmania, was the first Australian marine animal to be listed as critically endangered

Monday 18 September 2017 03.19 BSTLast modified on Monday 18 September 2017 03.21 BST
Scientists have begun a captive breeding program for the spotted handfish, 11 years after it became the first Australian marine animal to be listed as critically endangered.
Endemic to Tasmania, the spotted handfish or Brachionichthys hirsutus looks like a tadpole in the late stages of development, with a fin atop its head to lure unsuspecting prey and the sour expression of a British bulldog.
Its hand-like front fins are used to walk along the sandy bed of the lower reaches of the River Derwent, hunting for small shrimp, waylaid fish larvae and other food that drifts to the bottom.
As the name suggests it is covered in elegant spots.
The CSIRO has been conducting an annual survey of handfish numbers for two years and this month collected its first specimens – an adult male named Harley, an adult female named Rose and an as yet unnamed juvenile – to begin a captive breeding program.
Harley and Rose hit it off immediately, beginning and consummating a courtship almost immediately.

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