In this post we’ll be exploring the most bizarre creature yet, the Mudskipper. This fish is unlike any other, with its frog like eyes, protruding on top of its head, that move independently to look out for danger. These creatures are mostly found in swamps and estuaries and on mud flats. They grow up to 30cm long, and mostly have a muddy brown look to them. During the mating season, males will develop a brightly colored spots ranging from blue to red. This fish is one of the most unique creatures out there, it reminds me of the Hooded Pitohui (which is a poisonous bird), a animal doing something it ”shouldn’t” do.
Mudskippers or as they are scientifically known, the Oxudercinae, includes 23 extant species. They are known for their ability to survive on land for a prolonged time. Unique shape and the belly drag way they move, are also one of the other things they are known for. These creatures are found in semi-aquatic habitats and are found in Africa, Polynesia, Indo Pacific and Australia. Their habitats are generally swamps, lagoons, mud flats, and estuaries.
You might be wondering till now, how on earth do they survive on land without any water???
Mudskippers have the ability to absorb oxygen when out the water using gills and tissue that is specially designed. And another function they have, is being able to also absorb oxygen when in the water or land, just like a great number of amphibians. And also just like amphibians these amphibian fish need to keep their skin moist, and they do so by rolling in the mud in the most comical way. They also wipe mud on their gills using their extremely mobile pectoral fins (here is a little BBC Earth video on them ). They also have subortial dermal cups beneath each eye, which is like a little compartment that they dip their eyes in to create a protective film over their eyes, as these creatures haven’t developed tear ducts to moisten their eyes, so they use mucus from their skin and water from their environment to moisten their eyes
A even more intriguing fact is that Mudskippers don’t choose to be terrestrial, they could quite literally drown, yes poor fishes will die if they stay for a prolonged time in water, and will also die on land if they don’t have sufficient amount of mud to moisten their skin and gills up.
When on land they spend most of their time perched on mangrove roots and rocks. The burrow is one of the most important aspects of mudskippers, it stores oxygen when the tide comes in, it protects the mudskippers of predators when the tide is out, and most importantly, their eggs are safe.
Mudskippers generally eat small crabs, insects, snails. Some mudskippers show canniblistic impulses by eating other mudskippers!
The burrows are mostly dug by the males, and they do it by putting mud in their mouth and spitting cylinder like mud outside the burrow, to form a wall around it.
The biggest mudskipper species is the Giant Mudskipper (threatened), found on the shores of the eastern Indian Ocean. The smallest will be the Indian Dwarf Mudskipper, found in brackish waters on the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
Mudskippers play important roll in benthic ecology, as they eat all crustacenes and crabs. Mudskippers in general are not endangered, but are effected by the same problems as other creatures who live in the intertidal zone, which is reclamation and pollution.
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