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.
In 2003 the wildfilms
crew were part of these trips. But since 2007, the crew have been taking
For more about our
shores on the wildsingapore website
of our marine life on the wildsingapore flickr site
More about our namesake beasts...
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