All of the world's 14 known species of handfish are found only in shallow, coastal waters off southeastern Australia, the review notes.
"Handfishes are small, often strikingly patterned or colourful, sedentary fish that tend to ‘walk’ on the seabed on hand-like fins, rather than swim. Fifty million-years ago, they ‘walked’ the world’s oceans, but now they exist only off eastern and southern Australia,"Mr Gledhill says.
Handfish's slow movements and tendencies to stay within tightly confined habitats would seem to make the fish easy targets for predators. But researchers think handfish have a secret weapon: a toxic skin that kills most attackers.