Spotted handfish Facts

Spotted handfish Facts
Spotted handfish is a type of anglerfish that belongs to the Brachionichthyidae family. It can be found only in the Derwent River estuary in Tasmania (endemic species). Spotted handfish is bottom-dwelling creature. It inhabits sandy sea floor in the coastal areas and lives on a depth of 6.5 to 98 feet. Spotted handfish is one of the most endangered species of fish in the world (it is currently listed as critically endangered). Population of spotted handfish was large and stable until the 1980s, before Northern Pacific Seastar was introduced to Tasmania. Like all other species of starfish, this one also has huge appetite and ability to quickly eliminate eggs of spotted handfish and animals that spotted handfish use as a source of food. Spotted handfish cannot cope with fierce predators such as starfish because of their limited distribution (these fish cannot migrate toward another areas) and low reproducing rate.
Interesting Spotted handfish Facts:
Spotted handfish can reach 6 inches in length.
Spotted handfish have creamy-white skin on the back covered with brown or yellowish-brown spots and white skin on the belly.
Each spotted handfish has unique pattern of spots on the body (like fingerprints in humans).
Spotted handfish has pear-shaped body with crest on the back made of skin that stretches between the second and third dorsal spine.
Body of spotted handfish is covered with small, tooth-like scales called denticles.
Spotted handfish has hand-shaped pectoral fins that are used for walking on the sea floor, hence the name "handfish".
Spotted handfish rarely swim, but when they do, they use anal and tail fins to propel themselves in the water.
Spotted handfish is a carnivore (meat-eater). Its diet is based on shrimps, amphipods, worms and small fish.
Front dorsal fin of spotted handfish is modified into long filament (called illicium) with worm-like, fleshy structure (called esca) which dangles above mouth. Spotted handfish uses esca to lure the prey. When prey approaches close enough, spotted handfish swallows it in a blink of an eye.
Spawning season of spotted handfish takes place during the September and October.
Males perform courtship ritual to attract females.
Female produces only 80 to 250 eggs per season and deposits fertilized eggs on the surface of sea squirts (sessile marine creatures), seaweed or sponges. Female guards her eggs during the incubation period which lasts 7 to 8 weeks.
Spotted handfish are born fully developed (they do not have larval stage). Young fish settle on the sea floor immediately after hatching.
Females reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 to 3 years. Low number of eggs, removal of sea squirts and prolonged period of incubation (North Pacific Seastars have enough time to collect all eggs) are responsible for drop in the number of spotted handfish in the wild.
Exact lifespan of spotted handfish is unknown.

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