R is for Red Crab Migration: Critters Moving across Christmas Island

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The strange thing of the day is red land crabs that migrate across Christmas Island in Australia to lay their eggs in the ocean.

I’m speaking specifically of the gecarcoidea natalis, which are normally red but can occasionally be orange, and apparently purple on rare occasions.

It’s strange enough that they can be purple, but they’re also terrestrial critters.  They live on land.  I, and probably most of you, are used to thinking of crabs as aquatic creatures that live in the ocean.  But these critters live on land in forests, at least as juveniles and adults.  They do spend the first 304 weeks of life in the ocean before coming home to the land.

This must be a truly bizarre thing to witness, millions of red crabs moving across the island to the beaches to mate and lay eggs.  The population in Christmas Island is estimated to be over 40 million.  That’s an insane number of red land crabs.

The migration is a big thing on Christmas Island.  Park rangers have to work hard to make sure the crabs can safely get to the beach.  There are even mechanisms to funnel them under the roads instead of across them to protect both the crabs and cars and drivers.

Have you ever had a chance to see this migration?  Or some other mass migration of critters large or small?

 

Images in this post courtesy of Wikimedia Commons: one, two, and three.

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7 thoughts on “R is for Red Crab Migration: Critters Moving across Christmas Island

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