Every year, millions of red crabs migrate from the forests of Christmas Island to the ocean coast.
Officials often close roads to keep tow trucks safe. Image credit: frogtrail images
Christmas Island is a small area of the Ipdia Ocean that extends to Australia. It is best known for its red patiʋe craƄs that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. According to the Australian government, there are an estimated 50 million red chickens on the island. When the first rain of the wet season arrives, millions of red crabs emerge from the forest and march through villages, roads and bridges until they reach the Idia Ocean to reproduce.
This event is the biggest tourist attraction on Christmas Island and attracts many parent lovers from all over the world.
They can cover large areas along their route. Image credit: frogtrail images
These large hatchlings measure about 4.6 inches (116 millimeters) across; although males usually reach larger sizes than females. Their strong claws are usually the same size. But if these boundaries are damaged or detached, they are capable of regenerating them, as is the case with many other species. Most of them sport bright red colors, like some orange or, much more rarely, violet.
Red hens make arrows or take shelter in deeper rock crevices, where they spend most of the year. Due to their sensitivity to humidity, as the dry season dries up, they continue to cover the opening of their arrows with leaves to maintain a higher level of humidity inside. Therefore, they disappear completely for months.
They emerge from the forests and head to the seashore. Image credit: frogtrail images
Between October and December, when the wet season is about to return, the red hens undertake their rapid migration and leave their arrows to head to the coast of the Ipad ocean, where they mate and lay their eggs. The colorful columns of young are led by the males, who are followed by the females. It can take up to a week for the crab masses to reach their destination, and they can travel far and wide during this time; It is quite common for them to cover large areas throughout their journey. To help the red cranes migrate safely, park officials and staff have installed specially made crane bridges and overpasses along the roads.
The exact moment at which hatchlings lay their eggs is always determined by a particular lupar phase. They always spawn during the last quarter of the cycle, just before the new tide recedes. Surprisingly, these amazing little creatures know exactly which lupar date is the best time to lay down their arrows and spawn.
Crane bridges offer safe passage for migratory vessels. Image credit: Parks Australia/Reuters
First, the crabs bathe in the ocean when they reach the shore, to replenish moisture. After their refreshing bite, the males retreat to the lower coastal terraces to torment themselves. However, due to the large size of the cranes, the density of these arrows is very high and the males often fight with each other for possession of the arrows. The females then join the male offspring on the terraces and mate inside the arrows. Once they mate, the males take another dip in the ocean and begin their journey back to the areas where they spend most of the year.
Females remain protected in the newly excavated arrows and lay eggs within three days of maturation. Each of them can produce up to 100,000 eggs at a time and will stay with them for two weeks as they develop. With the arrival of the moo (when the moo reaches its last quarter), the crabs carry their eggs to the shore and carry them to the ocean, where they hatch almost immediately. While the females return to the forests after spawning, the young remain in the water until they struggle to escape after their parents.
Buoyancy is of key importance here: it creates an angle that results in gentler tides, giving waves a better chance of surfacing. However, they still have other dangers to face. Millions of them fall into the hands of marine fish, such as whales or rays.
The trip can last a week. Image credit: frogtrail images
Proximity to humans has also led to less concern about annual migration. The introduction of an inʋasiʋe ant species, the yellow сгаzу apt, to Christmas Island poses a more serious problem for red craƄs. It is estimated that apartments have increased to 15 million red cranes in recent years.
Although the red crescent population is enduring many casualties, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has not yet improved the conservation status of the creatures, so the species is not yet listed on its Red List.
However, there is hope for Christmas Island’s red cranes: according to the Australian government, once or twice every ten years, each one of them survives to affect the population of Christmas Island.