learn only 3 things about them ...
They are rarely seen but are a vital part of a healthy
They are responsible for the huge mounds of mud in the
other plants and animals live and feed on these mounds.
seen? The mud lobster is almost never seen out of its burrow
in the mangrove mud. But the impressive mounds created by this animal
are still commonly seen in the undisturbed back mangroves on our shores.
Features: Up to 30cm long. The
mud lobster is actually not a lobster but more of a giant shrimp.
It is more closely related to ghost shrimps
of the genus Callianasa. The mud lobster lives deep under the
mound in a U-shaped tunnel and rarely emerges above ground. According
to the Singapore Red Data Book, there are two species of mudlobsters
found in Singapore. Thalassina gracilis is smaller with a pointed
'nose' (rostrum) and known to live next to Thalassina anomala.
Thalassina gracilis was not seen for a long time until it was
Marvellous farmer of the mangroves:
The mud lobster plays a key role in sustaining life in a mangrove.
It is believed to eat mud. As it eats-and-digs, it recycles nutrients
from deep underground, bringing these within reach of other plants
and animals. Its digging also loosens the mud and allows air and oxygenated
water to penetrate the otherwise oxygen-poor ground. All this digging
also eventually results in a distinctive volcano-shaped mound that
can reach impressive proportions.
Mud lobster 'Condo': A mud lobster
mound can be as tall as 2m above the ground! The mud lobster mound
is drier than its surroundings so it makes a perfect home for other
animals. Many animals can be found in living in these 'high-rise'
mounds, creating their own burrows in the mound, sometimes complete
with chimneys. 'Condo' dwellers include snakes,
crabs, ants, spiders,
worms, clams and shrimps. Some plants
also appear to grow better on these mounds. The condominium comes
complete with swimming pool! Water is trapped in the mound system
forming pools. At low tide, these shelter aquatic animals such as
uses: Mud lobsters are eaten in some Pacific Islands such
as Fiji. In our part of the world, they are considered a nuinsance
by fish and prawn farmers as their digging activities undermine the
bunds (raised edges of mud) that surround fish and prawn ponds.
Status and threats: Our mud lobsters
are listed as 'Endangered' on the Red List of threatened animals of
Singapore, as their preferred habitats are lost or degraded. If they
disappear, so will their 'condos' and the plants and animals living
other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected by human
activities such as reclamation and pollution.
mud from a mound suggests
an active mud lobster deep underground.
Chek Jawa, Mar 12
by Toh Chay Hoon on her
Chek Jawa, Nov 08
in its burrow.
Chek Jawa, Oct 07
ferns growing on a mound.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Aug 09
Sungei Pandan, Jun 09
Chek Jawa, Oct 09
lobsters on Singapore shores
Chek Jawa, Aug 09
by Marcus Ng on flickr.
Chek Jawa, Nov 08
by Toh Chay Hoon on flickr.
Seen at Chek Jawa
from the mangrove boardwalk on 29 Aug 09.
Video clip shared by November on her
- Moh H. H. and V. C. Chong. "A new species
of Thalassina (Crustacea: Decapoda: Thalassinidae) from Malaysia", The
Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Vol 57 (2009) Issue No. 2.
G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore
Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore.
Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
- Jones Diana
S. and Gary J. Morgan, 2002. A Field Guide to Crustaceans of
Australian Waters. Reed New Holland. 224 pp.
Helmut, 2001. Crustacea
Guide of the World: Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean
IKAN-Unterwasserachiv, Frankfurt. 321 pp.