Mudskippers: Like A Fish Out Of Water
Walking along the mangroves during low tide is always an enjoyable experience for nature lovers. This is when the mangrove mud comes to life. During this time of the day, the dark mud teems with crabs, small fish, snails and other crustaceans, moving all over the surface to look for food, and preparing for the next high tide.
There is one animal that I am always looking forward to observing at low tide: the Mudskipper. Though it can be hard for the untrained eye to spot, there are actually several common species to be found at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. The Giant Mudskipper, the Slender Mudskipper and the Yellow Spotted Mudskipper are the more commonly seen ones.
Mudskippers are so named because they appear to ‘skip’ on the mud. A mudskipper does this by curling its muscular body sideways, and then pushing against the mud to spring forward. It can also ‘crawl’ on the mud by using its fins and tail.
Although mudskippers are fish, they are more comfortable crawling around on the mud than being submerged in water. This is because they are amphibious, and can live out of water for extended periods of time. They breathe by retaining water in enlarged gill chambers, and can also breathe through their wet skin.
The next time you visit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve during the low tide, keep an eye out for these fish. You will be fascinated by their unique and interesting behaviour.
Words and photos by Mendis Tan
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