Sympterichthys politus (Richardson, 1844)
Red handfish
Red handfish
Sympterichthys politus
photo by Hall, D.J.

Family:  Brachionichthyidae (Handfishes)
Max. size:  9 cm SL (male/unsexed)
Environment:  demersal; marine
Distribution:  Southwest Pacific: Endemic to Tasmania.
Diagnosis:  Dorsal soft rays (total): 18-19; Anal soft rays: 9-10. This species is distinguished by the following combination of characters: large esca, 45-65% (mean 52%) of illicium length (including esca); short illicium, thick and fleshy, no dermal spinules, length 14-17% SL, 3-3.4 times in head length, well separated from upper jaw (pre-illicial length 3.3-7.9% SL); moderate size eye, 6.9-9.3 times in head; body variably covered with small, close-set flattened warts but no well-developed dermal flaps; posterior margins of warts usually with a small, sharp, prostrate spine (mostly embedded with its tip sometimes visible); deeply embedded scales, widely spaced; second dorsal-fin rays 16-17, fin base 63-71 (mean 67)% SL; length of second dorsal-fin spine 0.7-1 times length of longest ray of second dorsal fin; anal-fin rays 9-10; pectoral-fin rays 9 (rarely 10); body variable shades of red, often paler ventrally; often bluish or blackish near dorsal tips of pectoral and pelvic fins, and along margins of dorsal, anal and caudal fins (Ref. 82446).
Biology:  A benthic species (Ref. 75154) which occurs in inshore waters (Ref. 7300, 75154).
IUCN Red List Status: Critically Endangered (CR); Date assessed: 30 April 2018 (B1ab(iii,v)+2ab(iii,v); C2a(i)) Ref. (124695)
Threat to humans:  harmless
Country info:  Type locality, Actaeon Islands, D'Entrecasteaux Channel, Tasmania, CSIRO H 4118-01 (neotype of Thymichthys politus, 6.14 cm SL). Known from widely disjunct populations; collected off the Forestier Peninsula (ca. 42° 50'S, 147°57'E) and Actaeon Islands, D'Entrecasteaux Channel (ca. 43° 30'S, 147° 03'E), southeastern Tasmania; also a single specimen from Bass Strait, off northern Tasmania (ca. 40° 58'S, 147° 25'E). Occurs demersally inshore at about 1-20 m. (Ref. 82446). Also Ref. 7300.

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