Periophthalmus barbarus

Physical characteristics: Atlantic mudskippers grow to a length of about 6 inches (15 centimeters). Large eyes stick out of a large head. There are two dorsal fins. The body is tan but is lighter on the belly. There are black diagonal bars on the back and upper parts of the sides and pearly spots on the head and forward part of the trunk. A light edge on the first dorsal fin may be tinged with light blue. The second dorsal fin has a dark band over a light band.

Geographic range: Atlantic mudskippers live along the western coast of Africa.

Atlantic mudskippers live near the seashore in mangrove estuaries and muddy tidal flats, where they live in burrows. (Illlustration by Amanda Humphrey. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Atlantic mudskippers live near the seashore in mangrove estuaries and muddy tidal flats, where they live in burrows.

Diet: Atlantic mudskippers eat crustaceans, worms, and insects. Crustaceans (krus-TAY-shuns) live in water and have a soft segmented body covered by a hard shell.

Behavior and reproduction: Atlantic mudskippers use their muscular pectoral and pelvic fins for crawling and climbing. They flee from predators (PREH-duh-ters), or animals that hunt and kill other animals for food, by skipping or hopping across mudflats and into mangrove forests or into their burrows. On land, mudskippers keep a mouthful of water for extracting oxygen through the gills, and they can breathe through their skin. Spawning occurs in burrows.

Atlantic mudskippers and people: Atlantic mudskippers are not fished for food or sport. They are not widely used in aquariums.

Conservation status: Atlantic mudskippers are not threatened or endangered. ■

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