15 September 2011

Mudskipper madness at Seletar

The Blue-spotted is my favourite mudskipper. It is so pretty and I seldom see it.
So I had a great time watching them from the 'boardwalks' at Seletar mangroves together with Andy.

The Blue-spotted mudskipper (Boloephthalmus boddarti) feeds on the film of stuff growing on the mud surface. It moves its head from side to side to gather it. It lives in burrows. I've also learnt that where I see large ones, the mud is very VERY soft!
There were also many large Yellow-spotted mudskippers (Periophthalmus walailake). It has pale spots on its body without any dark stripe, and a very handsome dorsal fin.
The largest of these fishes remain the Giant mudskippers (Periophthalmodon schlosseri). It has dark 'racing stripes' along the body. And there were many of those too!
The area we visited is near the Seletar dam where a small mangrove patch remains on the seaward side. Clusters of makeshift houses are tucked among the trees.
On the mudflats, we noticed mynahs foraging together with shorebirds!
Here's the mynahs with herons and other shorebirds on the mudflats. They didn't seem to disturb one another and each peacefully went about their own business.
There are long series of 'boardwalks' built through the mangrove patch towards the sea.
The boardwalks are quite sturdy and it seems they were built without damaging the trees much.
Near the low water line, lots of makeshift buildings, boats and fishing gear.
Oh, a traditional loo (probably best used at high outgoing tide). This one seems to be for the ladies. How considerate.
There are long make-shift jetties leading out into the water.
The tiny patch of mangroves here had the usual assortment of common mangrove trees and plants. I also saw one patch of the Critically Endangered Kalak kambing (Finalysonia obovata).
Among the mangrove trees, I saw this large mangrove spider hanging under its beautiful large tent web. It is probably Cyrtophora cicatrosa.
In the distance, a broad sand bar emerges at low tide. There were more floating structures near it and several people were gathering marine life there.
A new 'boardwalk' was being constructed heading towards a clump of mangrove trees.
In the sandy area there, we saw lots of sea anemones!
There were also beds of nest mussels (Musculista senhousia) on the sand bar.
Andy earlier saw some disturbing signs of chemical drums being used here.

I last visited this shore in 2008 when I noticed some make shift buildings there being torn down. At that time I also learnt that there were rare mangrove trees at Seletar in the past. From "A Guide to Mangroves of Singapore", Peter K. L. Ng and N. Sivasothi (editors)
Botanists discovered a stand of Berembang (Sonneratia caseolaris) in the upper reaches of Sungei Seletar only last year (1998). Prior to this, only a single tree of this species in Woodlands was known of in Singapore! It is actually viewable in the distance from Lentor Avenue! This tree is thought to be associated with fireflies, and can tolerate freshwater conditions.
And I found out what the word Seletar means. From the Wikipedia entry on Seletar
The Malay word seletar refers to the aboriginal coastal dwellers (orang laut) called orang seletar, who lived along the mangrove creeks of the Johor Straits and especially at the mouth of the Seletar River (which has since been dammed up to form the Lower Seletar Reservoir), hence the river's name. Later, Sultan Abu Baker of Johor is said to have taken these people from Seletar to Sungai Pulai in southwest Johor.

More Seletar stories and links in this 2008 post.

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