Meeting the Mudskippers

by | 2018-06-02 5:12pm Asia/Tokyo

Meeting the Mudskippers

2018-06-02 5:12pm Asia/Tokyo

Now that the breeding season has begun for the mudskippers, I decided to go try taking pictures of them yesterday morning. Timing for taking pictures of mudskippers is a bit difficult because you can’t see them until low tide. The breeding season hadn’t started until about a week ago, and low-tide hasn’t been at a good time until yesterday morning, so I had been waiting patiently.

But, yesterday was the day. I woke up extra early, strapped in, and rode off to the Ariake Sea and visited the mudskippers just as they were coming out of their under-mud burrows.

This was my first time coming to this area of the Ariake Sea. Like I wrote before, I’ve been to the neighboring dock. I was excited to finally be able to go to that bridge and take pictures, but I was surprised by one thing: the bridge was covered in mud. Because of that, it’s quite slippery. You practically have to waddle like a penguin to avoid taking a dive in with the skippers.

Another thing I didn’t know about was what the mudskippers were going to be like early in the morning. At 5:30, when low-tide was at 4:54, there were only a few mudskippers outside their burrows, all of them the younger ones. I think they were probably feeling a bit stiff, because none of them were jumping around. However, I did find some that were digging their burrows out of the mud. You can tell where there is some fresh digging going on because there are holes with darker mud, in the shape of pills, scattered around the edge of the hole.

As the sun rose over the horizon, I realized that I needed some face protection, so I went back to my bike to get a towel. On the way back, I noticed the crabs in the area scurrying back into their burrows when I walked by. I decided to wait for them to come back out and watch what they did. All of the young crabs would raise and lower their claws, like they were powering up or in a Baptist church, lifting their appendages up to their crabby god. I haven’t done any research on them, so I’m not sure why they do that. I’ve been told it’s to show off how strong they are, but I can’t confirm.

After finishing my short visit with the crabs, I went back to find a few of the adult mudskippers starting to wake up, but they weren’t ready to perform just yet. So, I enjoyed hanging out with the young early-birds.

However, I did get a few glimpses of the adult males giving their performances. It was tought to catch them in the act because they would only just a couple of times and then stop, often going back into their burrows.

One challenge of taking pictures of mudskippers jumping around is making sure the shutter speed is fast enough. The picture above is a bit blurry, even though my shutter was at 1/800. I was expecting that to be high enough, but clearly it wasn’t. In this case, I have a few options to increase my shutter speed: open my aperture some more, or increase my ISO. Opening the aperture is okay, but then the mudskippers might skip out of the plane-of-focus before I take the shot, so usually I like to stop down a bit to give myself some breathing room. In this case, I should have bumped my ISO from 200 to 400 or 800, but I thought 1/800 would be enough so I didn’t really think about it. I’ll have to remember that early morning, to get high shutter speed shots, I need to increase my ISO.

However, I did get one good shot of a skipper doing some skipping. One of the benefits I got from waking up in the morning was getting to use Golden Hour’s light. Also no problems with shutter speed since I was shooting into a bright reflection.

Looks like a scene straight out of a shojo mudskipper manga. Keep skipping, big guy.

After my short photo-session, I rode my bike to work. Unfortunately, Mr. Google sent me up a mountain, so my legs are killing me today. I’m resting today so I can have a longer session tomorrow morning. I’ll need to bring some water to wash down my shoes.