February 28, 2024


Scientists have plucked 25 extremely rare red handfish from the ocean off Australia, hoping to protect the struggling species from warming seas and other threats
Scientists have plucked 25 extremely rare red handfish from the ocean off Australia, hoping to protect the struggling species from warming seas and other threats.

Scientists have collected 25 extremely rare red handfish from the ocean off Australia, hoping to protect the struggling species from warming seas, human-caused habitat changes and ravenous urchins.

Only about 100 red handfish—which have the appearance of a crimson and brown goldfish with stubby arms and webbed hands—are left in the wild, living in a small section of reef off southeast Tasmania.

About eight centimeters (three inches) long, they “walk” along the on their pectoral and rather than swimming.

But overgrazing urchins, run-off from , disturbances from boats and rising have resulted in “severe habitat loss and degradation”, according to the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies.

Scientists at the institute recently made the difficult and risky decision to take dozens of the fish out of the wild for safekeeping.

“This has already well exceeded previous temperature maximums,” said marine scientist Jemina Stuart-Smith.

“We can only assume that this additional stressor will impact the already fragile population,” she said.

On Wednesday, scientists said the 25 specimens were doing well in their temporary aquarium homes and were being closely monitored for stress or ill health.

Scientists at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies made the difficult and risky decision to take dozens of the fish out of the wild for safekeeping
Scientists at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies made the difficult and risky decision to take dozens of the fish out of the wild for safekeeping.

“We have highly experienced staff looking after the fish seven days a week, and a 24-hour call-out roster,” said the institute’s Andrew Trotter.

“We believe they are quite safe with us—but there is certainly a feeling of heightened responsibility among our team, given how small the wild population is.”

Trotter and his colleagues are hoping to return the fish to their when temperatures drop with the onset of the austral winter in June.

Sea temperatures off Australia have been increasing steadily since records began at the beginning of the 1900s.

Experts believe the change is being fueled by the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

© 2024 AFP

Citation:
Australia scientists pluck rare handfish from ocean due to climate risk (2024, January 31)
retrieved 31 January 2024
from https://phys.org/news/2024-01-australia-scientists-pluck-rare-handfish.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *