50 million crabs: invasion of Australia
Tourists were amazed when over 50 million crabs started their annual migration into the sea to breed on the picturesque Christmas Island. The fiery red crabs will make the almost 3000 km long journey from southwest Australia, near Perth, to the coast of the national park in the far northwest of Australia.
50 million crabs have begun annual migrationArchive photo
Locals and travelers alike have headed out to view one of the greatest animal migrations in the world. In recordings of the natural phenomenon you can see the crustaceans swarming over roads, bridges, rocks and streams in order to reach their destination in time for breeding.
The crabs have been known to show up in rather bizarre places as they move over the cliffs and through the community. The island’s staff spend several months preparing for the mass migrations by building specially constructed crab bridges and temporary barriers. The area has not seen as many migrating crabs since 2005.
Dr. Detto, one of the volunteers who helped with the hike, said: “The team spent a lot of time building the bridges and barriers that will help protect the crabs on their journey. “It was really nice to see them being thrown away from traffic to get there safely”.
ESome crabs get stuck climbing over multi-story buildings, others fell from the steep limestone cliffs. Most of the crustaceans survive the adventurous hike thanks to the help of volunteers. The much anticipated hike is triggered by the first rains in October or November. A few days of heavy rain at the beginning of the month caused the male crabs to leave their homes and march to the beach to take in females along the way.
One female crab releases 100,000 eggs
The exact time and the speed of the hike are determined by the phase of the moon. The clever crustaceans know exactly when to break out of their burrows in order to reach the beach in time to spawn. Each female crab will release a staggering 100,000 eggs into the Indian Ocean during the mass migration. A month later, the crab-red crabs will return ashore to start their journey home to the island’s tropical forest. However, the vast majority of the larvae are eaten by fish, manta rays, and the giant whale sharks that await the annual feast in the surrounding waters.
Visitors are encouraged to park their cars and carefully walk through the sea of bright red crabs. Despite their threatening appearance, the animals are harmless and have been known to steal items from campsites, which has earned them the name “robber crab”. This species can grow up to a meter in length and has a strong sense of smell.
Safety comes first, even with crabsArchive photo
Annual mass migration has startedArchive photo
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