Almost every weekend, two youth in the city spend their evenings ‘herping’ at Ennore estuary. Since last year, more than their interest in usual reptiles, the duo have found a new amphibious fish, mudskippers, more interesting.
They are found only in a few estuaries and mangroves unlike other fish and amphibious species, says Aravind Manoj, a techie. He and his his friend Sudharshan Kuselan are attempting to document mudskippers and their habitats. The duo has been in touch with academicians, who research on the species.
“We were actually looking for the dog-faced water snake in Ennore and that was when we chanced upon the mudskippers. Initially, we were surprised to see the species and had several questions about them. So, I looked for more information about mudskippers and got to know they are rare and are found only in estuaries and mangroves.” They have taken images and are comparing notes with academicians researching mudskippers.
Mr. Kuselan, who accompanies Mr. Aravind almost every time he goes ‘herping’, says they found only three mudskipper species in Ennore initially but found two more in the surrounding areas later. Mr. Sudharshan is into wildlife photography and visits forest areas in and around the city.
G. Mahadevan, Research Associate in Centre of Advanced Study in Marine Biology in Parangipettai, part of Annamalai University, says 13 mudskipper species are found in India. “My doctorate was in mudskippers and I have surveyed them in estuaries along with entire east coast and up to the Sunderbans. In Tamil Nadu, they are found near Ennore, Pichavaram and Muthupettai.”
Mudskippers are said to be ‘pollution indicators,’ Mr. Mahadevan says.
“When the pollution level in that locality rises, some studies suggest that the mudskippers move elsewhere. Since they burrow, they are believed to benefit the entire mangrove ecosystem.” He said he has read reports of mudskippers, located from Gujarat in the north and up to Karnataka in the South on the west coast.