Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fiddler crabs and madcap mudskippers at Chek Jawa

Ria and I had a fabulous outing with lots of families and pals at the Chek Jawa Boardwalk today. It is the Christmas weekend, and there is no better way than to spend a lovely morning enjoying the beauty of a natural inter-tidal area in Singapore. There were about 25 people who came for our nature walk today.

Here is one group up on top of the Jejawi Tower, striking a happy pose for Ria.

As usual, the kids were fantastic in spotting the animals. With their keen eyesight, they helped us spot lots of animals in the mangroves. Here is a young man who is engrossed in documenting his sighting with a digital camera.

This is the spot near the back mangroves where we always find lots of fiddler crabs. The kids learnt that the male fiddler crab has a large claw which it uses to attract the females, while the female fiddler crabs have two equal-sized claws.

The fiddler crabs were of all shades of colour - red, orange, specks of blue, black, grey. You can read more about these interesting fiddler crabs in the factsheets.

There were lots of the brown and grey tree-climbing crabs in the back mangroves too. Some of the crabs were as large as the palm of a child. The tree-climbing crabs eat mostly leaves. In fact, we saw one of them dragging a leaf into its burrow where it could eat at leisure.

The other animals that we saw in abundance today were the mudskippers. They are found in both the back mangroves as well as the muddy shore facing the seagrass lagoon.

The mudskippers that we saw in the mangroves are the Giant mudskippers. These mudskippers have protruding eyes and are distinguishing by a black line on each side of the body. You can also find lots of Giant mudskippers at Sungei Api-Api in Pasir Ris Park, just a short walk from the HDB flats.

But what really caught the attention of the visitors were the super cute mudskippers in the muddy inter-tidal area. We saw at least 2 species of mudskippers in this patch.

The Gold-spotted mudskippers were very active today and many of the boy mudskippers were chasing each other. Many were flashing their colourful dorsal fins, probably a sign of aggression against each other.

The other species that we saw was the long and slender Bearded mudskipper. They were flipping and flapping all over the place. Ria caught their actions on her camera, and lo and behold, these mudskippers were literally leaping on their tails! A most unusual behaviour!

Further along the shore, we saw lots and lots of fiddler crabs. In particular, the Orange fiddler crabs were plentiful.

In a more placid scene, we saw a large shore bird near the large mangrove tree far out in the seagrass lagoon. It was the solitary figure of the Great-billed heron. This large bird with grey plumage is usually found feeding on the muddy seashore. This bird is rarely sighted in Singapore and its appearance in Chek Jawa is a treat for all visitors.

Really, the Crabs are delighted to see families come out to visit Chek Jawa with their children. It is a wonderful place for the city folks to get re-acquainted with nature. Many of the parents were observed sharing their own knowledge with the kids.

And here is the final group photo for the day for those who stayed on till the end. We hope to see you again.

Here are a few drawings on our guest book....

Little Jorryn, who was one of our super-spotters, drew a picture of a jellyfish and a stingray which she spotted from the southern side of the coastal boardwalk.

And Charmaine from Chong Fu Primary School summed it up best.... "Thank you, I had so much fun today". Yes, and the Crabs had a great time too.

See you at our next trip!

Other blog posts written about today's outing:


  1. Ley Kun

    Just to express our heart felt appreciation for conducting this Chek Jawa Nature Trip. This is very informational and it was much better than the BLIND trip we did ourselve some time back.

    We will see you n RIA in future trips again. Many thanks.

  2. @Raymond - you are most welcome. This is our version of a community outreach so that more people get to experience the beauty of our natural places. Visit it or else lose it!

    If you're visiting a mangrove again on your own, bring along one of the little guide books published by the Singapore Science Centre. The pocket guides cost only a few dollars each.