A strange fish with hands instead of fins has been discovered washed up on a beach by a horrified runner.
Kerri Yare was out for a job in Primrose Sands in Tasmania, Australia, when she saw the unusual animal.
"I'm always interested in any creatures I notice while running," she said.
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"It looked like a small pufferfish or toadfish, of which I have seen plenty, but when I looked closer, underneath a layer of sand, I recognised its small hand-shaped fins.
"It was definitely a wow moment."
The bizarre creature was later identified as a spotted handfish, thought to have gone extinct in the region years ago.
The last time the critically endangered marine animal was sighted was 20 years ago, leaving boffins astounded at Kerri's discovery.
Carlie Devine of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) revealed there were only 2,000 of the bizarre creatures left in the world.
"Up until last weekend’s find, we thought this spotted handfish population at Primrose Sands was locally extinct, and that it had been since before 2005," she revealed.
"We did look a few years ago too, but we didn’t find a single fish. This gives us cause to go looking again."
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The fish is named after its "hands", which it uses to walk along the sea floor.
It was the first fish to be listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, CSIRO reports.
Their population plummet can be put down to near-shore dredge fisheries hunting for scallops, as well as the invasive North Pacific seastar destroying their natural homes.
"They are rare and elusive," said Devine.
"Prior to the 1990s, spotted handfish were easily found. However, the population has separated and there are now only nine isolated populations.
"We now know that we must monitor these sites every year.
"We may only see one or two fish over a 60-minute dive, and sometimes none. We can estimate there are about 2,000 spotted handfish left in the wild."
While the future of the species might be looking bleak, there are now efforts being made to stop it from vanishing completely.
Artificial spawning habitats have been created to replace the creatures' natural homes and an "insurance population" is being kept in aquariums.
"This is so we can keep the species from going extinct," said Devine.
"But also to breed the fish, keep the juveniles safe until they are a bit older, and put them back in the river in hopes we can increase numbers in the wild.
"Through this programme we've already released a small number of juveniles into the wild and we are excited to see the ongoing impact of our work. We're not done yet."
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