Road traffic on Christmas Island has been stopped this week after millions of red crabs have begun their migration to the ocean. The protected species is unique to the island, and it does this migration every year, but 2021 has seen millions of arthropods crawling across Christmas Island.
Fortunately, this phenomenon is normal, and it is a part of a yearly migration for the species, which deposits its eggs into the ocean. As biologists explain, the migration seen here happens approximately two weeks after the mating season, that happens after the first rainfall of the wet season, and the exact timing and speed are decided by the phases of the moon.
Each female crab can produce up to 100,000 eggs. The females deposit the eggs into the Indian Ocean, which is why these creatures must crawl on the island every year. Locals are accustomed to the phenomenon, while tourists watch in awe.
After all, the red crab migration, unique in the world, is Christmas Island’s biggest tourist attraction. This year, pandemic travel restrictions may have reduced the number of tourists, but we can witness the fascinating phenomenon thanks to videos that are posted online by Parks of Australia. Hats off to them for sharing this event with the rest of the world!
Some locals even rake the red crabs out of the way, to prevent them from being crushed by oncoming vehicles, while others let themselves get covered in scarlet red arthropods just for fun, as Christmas Island National Park’s natural resource manager Brendan Tiernan told media representatives.
While animals migrate each year and other species of crabs do the same thing in their habitats, the ones off the coast of Western Australia make headlines through numbers. It is estimated that Christmas Island is host to approximately 50 million red crabs.
The species is protected by law in the country, so humans cannot interfere with their migration or attempt to curb their numbers. As Parks of Australia notes, the red crabs always spawn before dawn on a receding high tide during the last quarter of the moon.