|A large popeye mullet (Rhinomugil nasutus) feeding in the shallows|
|School of popeye mullet (Rhinomugil nasutus) feeding in a film of water on a mud flat|
Minutes before, the fluid mud was the domain of an even more amphibious fish, a species of mudskipper. The surface of the mud is green with algae and this is probably what the mullet want. However in my photos the mullet look like they are surface (filter) feeding. Bottom-feeding mullet stir up clouds of mud so it is easy to tell when they are feeding.
|Habitat of mudskippers at low tide then popeye mullet (Rhinomugil nasutus) on the incoming tide|
In Australia, popeye mullet occur sporadically across a range from Rockhampton to Broome but only occur at certain locations within this range. These photos were taken at Cardwell in North Queensland where popeye mullet are common and occur in small groups. In the Gulf of Carpentaria, especially Pormpuraaw, the fish occur in large schools that swim along the toe of the beach. They are not present in Cairns and Barron River Delta despite apparently suitable habit.
Suitable habitat to my knowledge is very shallow protected coastal waters. These areas usually have extensive areas of deep soft mud at low tide. At high tide, popeye mullet swim in the swash of waves breaking on the beach, where the water is both shallow and turbid. Below is a view of good habitat at the beach in Cardwell, showing breaking ripples over the mud flat at the base of a beach.
|Popeye mullet (Rhinomugil nasutus) habitat - Cardwell|
Try walking along the beach and doing rapid U-turns when a school of popeye mullet are beside you.