Red land crab migration on Christmas Island in Australia

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Christmas Island in Australia is the setting for one of the most amazing annual animal migration events in the world. Nature lovers all over the world are discovering the mass migration of millions of endemic red land crabs on this island in the Indian Ocean.

Christmas Island in Australia
Christmas Island in Australia

THE MAKING OF A MOVIE

Naturalist Sir David Attenborough described this red crab migration as one of the most amazing scenes in the world. This extraordinary natural phenomena climaxes in mid-December when millions of females of the species simultaneously spawn on the outgoing tide by dropping their eggs in the sea.

“Witnessing this spectacle is on the bucket list of nature-lovers from all corners of the globe,” said Linda Cash of the Christmas Island Tourism Association. “After the female red crabs do their joyous jiggle and release billions of eggs into the sea, they return to their burrows high in the jungle. This journey takes a week or more.”

RED CRABS ON THE BEACH OF CHRISTMAS ISLAND

Migration of red crabs on Christmas Island in Australia
Migration of red crabs on Christmas Island in Australia

These crabs are biologically programmed to take the most direct route back to their burrow. The crabs make sure absolutely nothing gets in their way. They turn the parks, golf course and beaches of Christmas Island into one moving crimson carpet. A golfer is given a penalty stroke on the Christmas Island golf course, by the way, if his or her ball accidentally hits a migrating crab.


WHAT’S IN A NAME

Christmas Island in Australia
Christmas Island in Australia

 

CHRISTMAS ISLAND was given its name by Captain William Mynors of the British ship Royal Mary. This ship was owned by the East India Company. The East India Company discovered this island on December 25, 1643. It was annexed by the British in 1888 and it became part of the territories of Australia in 1958.

Christmas Island in Australia
Christmas Island in Australia

ALL IN A DAY’S WORK

Everyone and everything stops for the red crabs during their annual migration season. Rangers from the Christmas Island National Park even roll-out kilometers of crab fences along the side of roads to funnel crabs through a network of grids and bridges. These allow the crabs to pass safely under or over the roads.

Even the Christmas Island school bus stops a distance away from the school to avoid the crabs that march through the school grounds. In the school, special boards have been installed on doors and windows to stop the crabs scuttling through the classrooms and interrupting lessons.

Christmas Island in Australia
Christmas Island in Australia

To help those crabs which still make it onto the roads, many locals also travel with a rake or broom in their car, so they can gently rake or sweep crabs out of danger.

Obviously, Christmas Island is also one of the most beautiful islands in the world. It is also home to many other natural wonders including unique seabirds, stunning marine life, and a variety of cultural experiences you won’t find in other parts of Australia. Read more about other amazing experiences in Travelife Magazine.

 


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