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The handfishes are a poorly known lophiiform family containing four described species in two genera: Brachionichthys and Sympterichthys. Handfishes are restricted to dispersed inshore marine habitats off southern Australia and primarily Tasmania. Like most other shallow-dwelling lophiiforms, they are exclusively benthic. Several species in the family are of conservation concern and listed as vulnerable to extinction by the Australian government (Last et al., 1983).

Australia's CSIRO has produced a QuickTime clip that outlines the conservation status of the spotted handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus) and demonstrates the tetrapod-like locomotion of brachionichthyids.


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