Mudskipper, a fish that walks & jumps

Mudskipper
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Mudskipper (Family Gobiidae) is one of the weirdest fishes in the world. Many would have mistaken that they are amphibian or having a lung, coz they spend most of their time out of water. To me, they look like a kawai (cute) Japanese cartoon character. If you only see its eyes above the water, you would think that it is a frog. Their superb eyesight is excellent in detecting danger and prey movement.

Mudskippers of Sabah Borneo

When they are out of water, their mouth and gill chamber will hold air. Once the oxygen is used up, they will replace it with fresh water. They also keep their skin moist regularly, so they can breathe through the skin. They feed on crabs, insects, and whatever small animals that can fit in their mouth.

Mudskippers of Sabah Malaysia

They get a pair of pectoral fins that give them the ability to crawl and move on the mud. It is also a common sight that mudskippers climb on the mangrove tree root and rest on it. When in conflict with each other, you can see their dorsal fins erect (see below) before they engage in a fight.
Mudskippers of Sabah Borneo

There are a number of mudskippers species. The photos of mudskipper show here are Periophthalmus novemradiatus. According to book, this species can grow up to 6cm (2.5 inches). But I personally saw one that reached 10cm (4 inches). If frightened, they will “hop” on the water to escape, and that’s how they got their name. To see how they jump on water, you can Click Here to view the video clip.

Mudskippers of Sabah Malaysia

Despite their odd appearance, mudskippers are considered as a highly-priced delicacy in Taiwan and Japan. Before they are consumed, they are kept in fresh water for days to remove the smell of mud. Last month a Hong Kong TV food programme also introduced the mudskipper dish in Malaysia.

Mudskippers of Sabah Borneo

Mudskippers are shy. They try to stay away from people. However, our noise and footstep (which reveal organic substance under the mud surface) make them curious. If you remain still for a while, many of them will come around you, and even climb on your shoes. Mudskippers are doing so well on the land. They seem to like land better too. I have no doubt that these fishes will evolve into a 4-leg creature after millions of years.

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre, Sabah, Malaysia

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  • Compliments for the photos!

    Nonetheless, in my opinion the species in the first 6 photos is Periophthalmus argentilineatus. The other ones are not sufficiently clear.

    In Taiwan and Japan the most consumed species is Boleophthalmus pectinirostris, but the Orang Laut consume also Periophthalmodon schlosseri in Malaysia. I personally tasted it: it’s delicious! Also Pseudapocryptes elongatus is good. Vietnamese eat it roasted.

    Mudskippers do NOT hold water inside the gill chambers, but air. It is a widespread and erroneous commonplace.

    Sabah is one of the last places where some magnificent mangroves are still present in Malaysia: you should be proud for that.
    I hope they will survive to coastal development.

    Cheerio!

    Gianluca

  • MySabah.com

    gianluca> thank you so much for the detail info. yes, all photos belong to 1 species only and they are only a few inches long. i saw a very big species in sandakan last month.