NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – ALAINA ZACHOS
Antonia Cooper and her research team had been diving for two hours. Hailing from the University of Tasmania’s Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies and the citizen science program Reef Life Survey, the group had received a tip from the public that a rare species of fish had been spotted near a reef miles off Tasmania’s south-east coast, and the divers wanted to find it.
But with more than half of their three-and-a-half-hour search already over, the team hadn’t found the fish. Cooper was ready to call it a day and gestured for her diving partner to call off the rest of the group. Before heading back in, she was half-heartedly fiddling with a stray piece of algae when she spotted something red in the water.
“Lo and behold, I found a red handfish,” Cooper says in a video. “That was very exciting.”
Cooper signaled the find to the team, which allowed them to narrow down their search to a smaller area. Within a stretch of reef about the size of a badminton court, they found a total of eight red handfish.