Main content

Great blue spotted mudskipper

To keep their eyes moist out of water they retract their prominent eyes down into special fluid-filled cups, to stop them drying out. Mudskippers are the only fish that can blink!

Why do these fish dance on land?

  • Spending as much as 90% of their time on land, Mudskippers have adapted how they move, breathe and see out of water.
  • Their eyesight has adapted to see better in air than in water, so to catch a partner’s eye, mudskippers dance on land.
  • The lenses in mudskipper’s eyes have become more flattened to see in air, meaning their underwater vision is poor.

How else are Mudskippers adapted to living on land?

  • There are 24 species of mudskippers and they are all uniquely adapted to live out of water. Some can spend as much as two and a half days out of water.
  • As well as breathing through their gills while in water on land, mudskippers can absorb oxygen directly from the air; through their skin and through the lining of their mouth – which is why they are often seen ‘gulping’ air.
  • To move on land, these fish have adapted 'shoulder' joints which, along with modified fins enable them to walk, climb, jump and swim in a skipping motion known as ‘crutching’.

Mudskipper high jump

Mudskippers repeatedly jump to catch a female’s attention.