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The crabs of Christmas Island

The crabs of Christmas Island

My only experience with crabs was Singaporean Chilli crabs. My sister was a food critic and spent years finding the best chilli crab meal in Singapore and I've known many intimately.. but I digress...

Live, wilderness-living crabs are also fabulous and the amazing red crab migration is what put Christmas Island (CI) on the Attenborough map of world wonders. CI has about a dozen land dwellers plus hundreds more intertidal and ocean crabs. They are not for eating alas. Instead, it has become a favourite past-time to go crab-sniffing and find as many different species as I can.

An invaluable resource is the Christmas Island Crabs book that you can find online here 

You can also find more red crab facts through the national parks website here

 Red crabs in their forest homes before the migration

Red crabs in their forest homes before the migration

The red crab migration occurs every year between October to December and while that makes it hard to plan a holiday, there are several opportunities to see the land covered in a red carpet of crabs.

The first migration is the adult crabs moving from forest to ocean side burrows.

The second wave is that of male crabs returning to the forest.

 Spawning morning when the red crabs release their eggs into the ocean

Spawning morning when the red crabs release their eggs into the ocean

 

On a moonlit night mother crabs enter the shallow tides to release their eggs.

 Juvenile red crabs returning from the ocean to shore. They still have their tails and ability to breathe underwater for a few more days

Juvenile red crabs returning from the ocean to shore. They still have their tails and ability to breathe underwater for a few more days

About a month later, the final migration of tiny, translucent baby crabs swarm from ocean the forest. Their pathway is direct, so any new buildings, cars or roads are simply new obstacles they have to climb.

 The shoreline covered in juvenile red crabs

The shoreline covered in juvenile red crabs

A dramatic video of the red crab migration is on the National Geographic website here

Google Street view arrived on Christmas Island for the 2017 migration and you can see some of the spectacular photos here

Cocos Keeling Islands

Cocos Keeling Islands

Christmas Island

Christmas Island