What are
Beach Fleas?!

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We're a crazy bunch of people who are addicted to exploring Singapore's intertidal habitats. Like real beach fleas, anytime the tide is low enough, you will find us scurrying about on an intertidal flat, even if it is 3am in the morning! There, you will see us creeping about slowly over the flats, backs bent as we explore and photograph what we see. We've put up this website to share what we have seen and learnt.

Since the
wildfilms project started, the film team has been faithfully coming for our intertidal explorations. See the WildFilms blog for the latest adventures (and misadventures) of the wildfilms crew and the Beachfleas!

For more about our shores on the wildsingapore website
and gallery of our marine life on the wildsingapore flickr site

Want to be a Beach Flea?
Join us on our wild adventures! Email Ria for more details

More about our namesake beasts...

Beach fleas
Family Talitridae
Class Amphipoda
Subphylum Crustacea

Beach fleas are named for their ability to leap great distances (up to 60 times their body length). They do this with a downward flick of the last 3 pairs of “legs” on their tail (uropods) at the end of the abdomen. They are sometimes also called sand hoppers.

Beach fleas are flattened sideways, have tough exoskeletons and compound eyes. Their first two pairs of legs are usually modified for handling their food. They have seven pairs of walking legs, the first four reaching forwards, the last three backwards! When they walk, they creep along slowly with their backs bent...very much what we Human Beach Fleas do when we explore the intertidal zone!

Beach fleas are herbivorous, feeding on whatever vegetable matter is washed up on the beach. They can eat more than half their body weight a day! During the day, beach fleas hide in burrows or moist places among debris. At night and low tide, they come out to feed. They quickly go back into hiding as the day breaks. We Human Beach Fleas also only forage on the intertidal flats at low tide. Alas, at high tide, we are forced to return to our mundane daily lives.

Beach fleas belong the Class Amphipoda. Other amphipods are scavengers, feeding on dead plants and animals. Some feed on detritus. Some live in muddy places under rocks, filtering the water for titbits with their feathery appendages. Some hide in silken tubes made with silk glands in their feet. Others live inside tunicates or sponges. A few have become parasites (e.g., Whale Lice).

Beach fleas usually mate in rock pools, the male holding on the female as he passes his sperm into her body. The female broods her eggs in a special brood pouch (marsupium) between the front legs. Here, her eggs hatch and pass through their larval stage safely. They emerge looking like miniature adults. Some species of amphipods even raise their young! There are 7,000 amphipod species. They are found in marine, brackish and freshwater habitats. One family is even found in moist terrestrial habitats.

for more details: contact ria tan
website©ria tan 2003

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