Brood stocks were established at two institutes, with 10 animals each to Seahorse World and SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium. Both institutes are known to have at least one fertile pair due to breeding occurring in captivity following collection. The captive population is now 116 fish (30/12/2017) of which 20 are adults or sub-adults and 96 are captive bred juveniles. No fish have died during this process which was unexpected as previously high mortality occurred for juveniles. Our use of marine-tank chiller units, which have become cheaply available since the previous captive breeding work in the mid-1990s, may be responsible for this low mortality.
Knowledge transfer to industry partners (Seahorse World and SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium) by CSIRO officers for captive breeding of handfish was made through personal visits, phone calls and the provision of all reports and laboratory notes. A standard operating procedure was developed for data processing and transfer of animals via freight. A stud book was also established - Spotted handfish ambassador fish program: captive fish studbook. See References.
Compared to previous years, similar results were obtained for fish densities at the nine long-term monitoring sites, however this year the observed decline at Ralphs Bay continued to its conclusion with no fish observed during 2017.