A fish that walks on mud using its fin is now dominating the shoreline of coastal Nagapattinam. Post cyclone Gaja, a tremendous amount of mud silt was deposited from the deep dead sea along the East Coast, paving way for the walking fish’s arrival.
“In India, mudskippers are usually not consumed due to their anaerobic respiration which results in high sulphate and nitrate content. The skippers can go without oxygen for hours,” said professor V Sai Saraswathi, VIT, Vellore. A recent field visit by VIT students and interaction with local community revealed the presence of mudskippers and there is a need to study the long-term impact of Gaja, particularly the high deposition of mud silt, Saraswathi said.
“The amphibious mudskippers live in brackish water and wetlands. They can survive predator attacks in the mud, especially during high tide, for three days,” said A Mohammad Tharik, student of VIT Nature Club. Mudskippers fight over territories and the blue spots on them glow during breeding season, Tharik added.
“We don’t eat the mudskipper (called Kuzhi meen) in Keezhakarai region. They have strong pelvic and pectoral fins which double up like limbs. It’s very tough to catch these as they jump, swim, walk when encountered by fisherman,” said Mohamad Ismail, a fisherman based in Rameswaram.