Christmas Island is a small island in the Indian Ocean about 360 km south of the Indonesian island of Java and about 1400 km northwest of Australia. Administered by Australia, the island’s population is close to 1900, and most of the island’s are of Chinese descent. Christmas Island is home to people of European and Malay descent. With a scenic coastline, tropical climate and lush forests, 63% of Christmas Island’s national park is a national park. In addition to the rare flora and fauna, these forests, full of beautiful waterfalls, also provide habitat for our protagonists, the red crabs.
They are commonly known as “Christmas Island Red Crab”, the scientific name for this terrestrial crab species is Gecarcoidea natalis. They have been identified as endemic to the jungles of Christmas Island. These slightly larger crabs are more active during the day, but can even die from direct exposure to the sun. Therefore, they prefer to stay in shady places to protect their body moisture. Depending on fallen leaves, seedlings, fallen fruits and flowers, they act as pollutants, contributing to nutrient recycling and promoting the spread of island plants. Therefore, their role in the forest system of Christmas Island is unique and crucial.
Red Crabs are more sensitive to moisture, So they live in nests dug in the interior of the forest for most of the year. During the period when the island’s humid environment is favorable, red crabs prepare for breeding. Although red crabs live at a loss in the wild for most of the year, they migrate to the coast during their breeding season and take over the entire island. And showing the world who the real owners of the island are.
Once the red crabs migrate to the coast, they mate for at least a week. Leading this massive migration of millions from the forest in the center of the island to the coast are mostly male crabs, who come ashore before the female crabs, dig burrows and try to protect their habitat from other male crabs. Although the male crabs migrate back into the wild after mating near the excavated nest, the females remain in the nest for an additional period of time to produce and maintain eggs. It is interesting to note that these females are careful enough to release their eggs into the sea only during the period between the last quarter of the lunar calendar and the new moon. During this time the tides rise and the eggs are easily accessible to the sea. But if the weather changes during that time, they may even postpone spawning until the next lunar month.
The hatchlings live at sea for about a month before returning to shore, and then begin migrating back into the wild to complete the rest of their life cycle.
Once upon a time, these red crabs, which were on the innocent journey of millions for their breeding work, faced many dangers with the arrival of human habitation. Crossing the road, they were at risk of being killed by thousands of vehicles.
However, due to the ecological importance and tourist attraction of the time, a number of remedies are being implemented on the island to avoid any inconvenience to crabs and humans during the migration season. During this time the park is closed to tourists, and many roads are closed as the roads are covered with crabs that look like red carpet. Even from the islanders, the journey to the future upliftment of this innocent living community is a blessing in disguise.
Some people have crawling hoods attached to the front wheels of their vehicles. In addition, aluminum barriers have been erected on the island to allow migratory crabs to cross the road and cross over the road through crab bridges built to allow them to navigate safely under the road.
Christmas Island is known around the world for its large annual migration of millions of crabs, which attracts a significant number of tourists between October and November. However, at a time when thousands of species are threatened with extinction due to human activities, it is truly commendable that Christmas residents have even closed their highways and partially contributed to this crab parade.