Saturday, 21 November 2020

Walking the Way of the Dinosaurs

CSIRO Publishing released a unique and timely information picture book on 1 October 2020 for primary aged children – but adults will love this story too. Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish, features an iconic and quirky little fish that’s been around since the time of the dinosaurs. But now it’s in serious trouble.

Move over Nemo and move over charismatic megafauna, this little guy represents the smaller threatened creatures in the ocean. The Spotted Handfish is famous for two reasons: walking on its ‘hands’ (pectoral fins), and for being the one of the first marine fish in the world to be recognised as endangered.


The Spotted Handfish is listed as Critically Endangered under both the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (the EPBC Act). There are less than 1000 left.

Now restricted to walking around a small marine area off Tasmania, this handfish and its close relative, the Red Handfish, have dealt with a barrage of compounding threats over the past few decades, including invasive seastars, pollution and climate change.

Written by marine biologist and former National President of the Australian Marine Sciences Association, Dr Gina Newton, the book is narrated by Handstand, a cute cartoon handfish. Handstand tells the tale of his life on the seafloor and how he and his relatives came close to the brink of extinction. His tale is also one of the circle-of-life, and this is how scientists were able to step in to help save his species.

The book is vibrantly and cleverly illustrated by Tasmanian artist, Rachel Tribout, whose artwork brings Handstand’s tale to life. Readers are transported into a moving, frothing undersea world of blue, green and brown hues, complemented by the technical tools of science, such as boats, SCUBA and laboratories.

The world, including Australia, is experiencing an extinction crisis of its amazing and unique biodiversity. Hold On! is an important and timely tale, and a story of hope.

This book takes children into the unseen undersea world and provides an inspiring narrative of how people can use science to help save a species from extinction. The book includes a glossary and conservation timeline, and has associated comprehensive Teacher Notes that are available online.

Handstand is an unforgettable little hero, that will soon be walking his way into your hearts, minds and bookshelves!

Further information: Contact Gina Newton 0413010752, ginanewton.com; Or, Melinda Chandler           melinda.chandler@csiro.au , https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7903/



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