26 December 2009

Mudskippers a-leaping at Chek Jawa!

Long skinny mudskippers were frantically leaping on the spot at Chek Jawa today. Almost vertically to the full length of the long thin body.
It's the first time I've noticed this behaviour! It seems the mudskipper literally stands on its broad tail as it flings itself skyward. Here's some shots of the same fish leaping.

And here is the fish in between leaps.
It's the Bearded mudskipper (Scartelaos histophorus) which so far I've seen mainly at night, usually quietly and very horizontally on the soft mud. So perhaps this kind of behaviour only happens in broad daylight? My wild guess for this totally reckless behaviour of calling attention to itself: something to do with trying to attract a girlfriend?

These two Bearded mudskippers were in a shallow pool near one another.
And one of them (the slightly larger one) was leaping up and down nearly on top of the other.
Soon after, the smaller one disappeared into a hole in the mud, followed by the bigger fish. Hmm...
These Bearded mudskippers have another way to signal more subtly. They can raise their long skinny dorsal fin on their backs like thin pointed flags.
There were lots of Bearded mudskippers out today. This pair are not kissing and were probably trying to bite one another. They seem rather quarrelsome.
Also plentiful on the crowded fishy shore were Gold-spotted mudskippers (Periophthalmus chrysospilos). Here's a pair chasing one another.
These rather more robust mudskippers also signal with their dorsal fins, which are broad and very colourful!
The dorsal fin is quite visible even from a distance!
The even larger Giant mudskipper (Periophthalmodon schlosseri), probably tries to impress would-be girlfriends by building a deep 'swimming pool'. We saw this large mudskipper excavating his pool using only his mouth!
Here's a closer look at another Giant mudskipper that we saw in the back mangroves. It's built more like a tank than an acrobat, so digging is something it probably does better than jumping up and down like the slender Bearded mudskipper.
I should spend a longer time observing our very common mudskippers. There seems to be intriguing behaviour to discover about them!

Of course, we saw lots of other wildlife on this fun trip to Chek Jawa with the Naked Hermit Crabs.


  1. Saw from this website that, "'Scartelaos' is probably a compound name from the Greek 'skarthmos' (leaping), and 'laos' (people, folk), which maybe refers to the typical tail-stand of males during courtship"


  2. Ria, you are right! According to Milward (1974) and Towsend & Tibbets (2005), the males stand on their tails to attract females into their burrows and spawn. It is a courtship behaviour.

    It's great you spotted this. Was wondering why I didn't see this at Pasir Ris the last time when trying to confirm its id. :)

  3. Wow thanks guys for all this info! This is so cool to know.

    Kok Sheng, it is strange we didn't see the Pasir Ris ones doing this. Perhaps it only happens in daylight or certain times of the month? So much more to learn about our shores!

  4. Flowers are blooming colours and mudskippers are having sex... love is in the air at Chek Jawa!

  5. have been seeing them do that at CJ since the boardwalk was built as we seldom walk on that stretch where they are seen now....The photos look great! Now we got more stories to tell...

  6. This slender bearded mudskipper also does a neat trick burrowing into inundated soft mud in split seconds. I have seen them doing it a few time... very wormlike. haha. Joe : )

  7. I think that maybe the mudskippers form that deep pool to show other males that 'this is my territory!' and they do the funny little dance to attract females.

  8. mudskippers ive seen since primary sch, ive never known they can stand on their tails! haha.... courtship behaviour eh.. nice shot on their dorsal fins...

  9. Thanks everyone for sharing your observations and thoughts about these amazing mudskippers. There's still so much more to learn about our shores!



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