Unique and quirky, spotted handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus) are recognisable by their modified fins that resemble human hands. Once common in southern Tasmania’s Derwent estuary, spotted handfish experienced a severe decline in the 1980s. In 1996 they became the first marine fish to be listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are also listed as Critically Endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and Endangered under Tasmania's Threatened Species Protection Act 1995.
CSIRO, University of Tasmania (UTAS), the Tasmanian and Australian governments and the Derwent Estuary Program (DEP) have been working together to conserve spotted handfish since the mid-1990s.