Tiny red handfish hatchlings a lifeline for world’s rarest fish

IMAS –

Fifty new born Red handfish are giving IMAS scientists an opportunity to help save the last known populations of the world’s rarest fish.

The tiny Red handfish hatched in an IMAS aquarium this month from two egg masses collected at one of the last remaining sites in Southern Tasmania where fewer than 100 adults survive.

IMAS researcher Dr Jemina Stuart-Smith said keeping the juveniles in a safe environment during their vulnerable early stages would protect them from predators and environmental risks.

“These juvenile Red handfish will play a vital role in ensuring the species continues to survive in the wild,” Dr Stuart-Smith said.

“We plan to release them back into their remaining habitat when they are around one-year old, to help rebuild the population at one of the two known sites that has been compromised by range of impacts – including habitat loss.

“Raising them in a controlled environment is a conservation strategy known as headstarting, designed to improve their chances of surviving to maturity and eventually reproducing.

“Little is known about Red handfish biology, reproduction and early growth, and these juveniles will also allow critical research that can help us to ensure this is not the last generation of their species,” Dr Stuart-Smith said.

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