Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fresh Facts IV: Mudskippers

Mudskippers are fairly widespread along Taiwan's west coast, and two species can be found. According to this scholarly paper

"Mudskippers are air-breathing, amphibious fishes, and one of few vertebrates that reside on [intertidal] mudflats," and that such places, "are highly productive ecosystems that impose severe environmental challenges on their occupants due to tidal oscillations and extreme shifts in habitat conditions. Reproduction on mudflats requires protection of developing eggs from thermal and salinity extremes, oxygen shortage, dislodgement by currents, siltation and predation."

Pictured here (photo from a Chinese-language Wikipedia page) is the smaller and more common of Taiwan's two mudskipper species, Periophthalmus cantonensis. This creature, which sometimes appears on restaurant menus, has a particular liking for mangrove swamps like those at Bali, New Taipei City. The other, Boleophthalmus pectinirostris, has a green-brown mottled appearance and grows up to 15cm long. It's a territorial species that's now endangered in Japan.

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