London - One of the world’s rarest fish has just become a little less rare.
Scientists have discovered a second population of red handfish, a species that cannot swim but use their hand-like fins to walk along the seabed.
There were previously thought to be only 20 to 40 of the species but it is now thought there may be up to 80.
They were found off the coast of south-east Tasmania, near the first group, in an area which is only the size of two tennis courts.
A team of seven divers spent two days searching for them after a tip-off from a member of the public. Antonia Cooper, of the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, said: ‘My dive partner went to tell the other divers that we were going to start heading in and I was half-heartedly flicking algae around when, lo and behold, I found a red handfish. Finding a new population that is definitely distinct from the existing one is very exciting.’
There are seven other known species of handfish, but one named Ziebell’s is already thought to be extinct.