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One Of The World's Rarest Fish Calls Australia Home And Walks On Its ‘Hands’

They’re bright red, walk along the seafloor on their fins and have a fishing rod fused to their heads -- and there are less than 100 left.

An Australian marine biologist is helping to save the mythical ‘Red Handfish’ -- a small and very endangered fish.  

They’re found in two 50-metre patches off the Tasmanian coast and are believed to be one of the world’s rarest fish species. 

The brightly-coloured critters are just 10 centimetres in length, and among the strangest in the sea.

There are less than 100 red handfish left in the wild. Image: Sheree Marris

They’re a relative of the angler fish (think the toothy bloke in ‘Finding Nemo’ with the torch on his head) and prefer not to swim around like the rest of their scaly cousins. 

Marine biologist Sheree Marris calls them an “unfish-like fish”. 

“They use their fins to ‘walk’ instead of swim -- hence the name,” Marris told 10 daily. 

“They’re super secretive." 

READ MORE: These Aussie Animals Who Die From Too Much Sex Are Going Extinct

While they can manage short bursts, ‘Red Handfish’ prefer to use their specially-adapted fins to ‘walk’ along the ocean floor.

No two of the species are the same, with their bright colours and spots acting as a flashy, fishy fingerprint.

They have an unusual snacking style, sitting on the seafloor waiting for food to literally fall into their mouth. 

Marris said the fish wiggles its “rod and fluffy little pom-pom” that is fused to their face to catch the eye of its potential prey, which is then lured into its mouth. 

The fish use their fins to walk, hence the name. Image: Sheree Marris

While they might not be as cute and cuddly as a panda or an orangutan, the 'Red Handfish' need saving. Environmental degradation and pollution will likely see the species become extinct.  

“It’s really frustrating because if it was a panda, the world would be outraged,” Marris said. 

“But because it’s underwater and people can’t see them, it’s tricky to get people to care.” 

To support the cause, you can donate to the Handfish Conservation Project, or even name your own handfish. Gabrielle, Ginger Ninja & Uncle Marty have already been taken, but there are plenty more available. 

You might even turn that little red frown upside down.

Contact the author jcaldwell@networkten.com.au