Christmas Island’s red crab migration, which Sir David Attenborough hails as one of the most spectacular migrations on the planet, will, this year, coincide with the lead-up to Christmas.
Recent weather conditions coupled with the synchronisation of the full moon means that the island’s famous red land crabs are spawning (dropping their eggs in the sea) this week – an eye popping spectacle to witness for both residents and visitors to the remote Australian Territory.
“This means the female crabs will be returning en masse from the coast towards their burrows in the jungle, just as Santa arrives,” explains Linda Cash of the Christmas Island Tourism Association.
“Santa will feel like he has lobbed on the set of a Discovery Channel documentary,” says Ms Cash, who reveals, “absolutely nothing gets in the way of the endemic crabs – they turn the island’s roads, golf course (where there’s a penalty stroke should your ball accidentally hit one!) and beaches into a crimson carpet as they scuttle from the sea.”
Each year, thousands of crabs are killed by cars as they cross the roads, but this year members of the community are helping to reduce crab casualties in a number of ingenious ways. These include ‘crab protection infrastructure’ such as specially-designed bridges, grids and barriers which allow the crabs to cross roads in safety. Some locals are even going so far as to rake and sweep the ubiquitous crabs (which if undertaken with care doesn’t harm the crab) out of danger.
“The way in which the community has whole-heartedly supported these initiatives is resulting in a much lower death rate amongst the crabs than in previous years,” says Michael Misso, Manager of the Christmas Island National Park.
“Some islanders are even planning to clear a special landing zone of the famous crabs on Christmas Eve for Santa’s sleigh,” says Ms Cash, who adds, “I understand they are in close consultation with Airservices Australia about the precise time for Santa’s arrival to ensure than that no crabs are injured when Santa touches down on his favourite island.”
“On Christmas Day, after raking the roads of migrating crabs, it’s a bit of a tradition for islanders to wander down to Flying Fish Cove for a snorkel or dive (where Santa hats are obligatory) followed by a BBQ lunch (not crabs!),” adds Ms Cash.
For updates on the migration of the red crabs: www.christmas.net.au
For updates on Santa’s flight path: www.airservicesaustralia.com/santa11