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Mudskipper Photography Research

2018-05-07 9:11pm Asia/Tokyo

Last year, I learned about an interesting photography contest that I wanted to join. The subject of the contest was mudskippers.
Mudskippers are a kind of amphibious fish, a species of which can be found in abundance in Saga, Japan. They’re cute little buggers that prefer to play in the mud, rather than swim in the water. Although the city that held the photo contest last year doesn’t appear to be holding it this year, my girlfriend and I enjoy taking pictures of them, so we decided to take more pictures of them this year. Last year, we were late to the mating season, so we didn’t to get to witness the height of their mating rituals. Additionally, I forget to reset my camera to shoot RAW, so the quality of the pictures I took was disappointing. This year, I will make no such mistake!

In an effort to up my mudskipper-photography game this year, I’m doing a bit of research about mudskippers. I’m hoping to learn something about their behavior, physical differences between males and females, etc. that will help me predict their movements. But, before learning about their behavior, I needed to know the best places to take pictures of them. Here is some useful information about the location:

Address: 小城市芦刈町永田3033番地1

Low-tide time table

Map:

 

Previously, my girlfriend and I have gone to the docks. We never knew about or noticed the much better location just east of there. There is a bridge hanging just over the mud, with a bath available for those that decide to get in the mud (looks like a 300 yen per-person charge for using the bath). The bridge appears to be the most popular spot for taking photos.   Now that location information is out of the way, I need some information about mudskippers. To gather information, I started at Wikipedia and worked my way to a mudskipper researcher’s website with specific, detailed information about the species of mudskipper found in Saga. I combined that with other information I found to form this list.

  1. Mudskippers are amphibious, meaning they can live in and out of the water.
  2. They can breath through their skin, mouth, and throat. However, they have to be moist to do so. They stay moist by frequently rolling in the mud.
  3. Mating season starts at around the end of May and goes through about July…I think.
  4. They eat algae in the mud. They do so by first scooping some mud up and then sieving it in shallow pools of water.
  5. They store air in their gills to allow them to stay above water for longer.
  6. Mudskippers are highly territorial and maintain burrows. They eat while roaming their territory.
  7. They will take air into their burrows. Females lay eggs in a special chamber in their burrow.
  8. They have large dorsal fin with several spine bones. The second spine on females is extra long.
  9. Males will jump and slap their bodies and tails near the opening of their burrows to attract mates.

Knowing the difference between males and females will make it easier to pick targets to follow. Knowing that they need to go to a small pool of water to sieve food from mud also helps make their behavior more predictable.

With this information, I’ll be taking much better pictures this year!