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Red Crab Migration on Christmas Island

Updated on July 4, 2011

The migration of red crabs takes place annually on Christmas Island, an Australian island in the Indian Ocean. These bright red crabs literally flood the island's roads and buildings when they migrate from the island to the beaches for breeding.

The red crab migration takes place in the months October - December but the exact date depends on the weather and the moon cycles. If you wish to witness this event you'll need to keep an eye on the red crab migration bulletins that are published by the Christmas Island Tourist Association (see link at the bottom of this article).

The red crab migration is a unique phenomenon particularly due the staggering number of crabs involved.

 

Red crab on Christmas Island
Red crab on Christmas Island | Source

When does the red crab migration take place?

The migration is carefully timed by the crabs because it takes place when there is the least difference between low and high tide. This means it's the safest time to go to the water and release the eggs into the ocean. The best time is therefore during the last quarter of the moon as the tides are closely related to the moon's phases.

As mentioned in the introduction, the migration takes place at the end of each year during the Australian holiday season. It's hard to miss the event when you're there so it also attracts tourists to the island.

For more information about Christmas Island and information on how to get there, see the following article:

How many crabs are involved during the migration?

Literally millions of crabs walk from the forests to the beaches to mate and breed there. The daily life of the people on Christmas Island is noticably influenced by all these crabs as they're everywhere: on the roads and in buildings. Many red crabs are also killed due to cars driving on the roads.

We haven't even mentioned all the baby crabs that return from the ocean. Aside from all those millions of adult crabs, each female crab can produce up to 100,000 eggs. These are released into the ocean where they develop into so-called megalopae. Life is a struggle for these soon-to-be crabs because many are eaten by marine life and many will never make it back to the island.

The videos below show the scale of the red crab migration that takes place annually:

Interesting facts about the red crab migration

  • If a ball goes in a hole on the golf course due to a red crab, it counts!
  • Roads on Christmas Island can be closed to durings peaks of the red crab migration.
  • Many red crabs can now safely cross the road due to special tunnels underneath the roads and unclimbable walls that guide them to the tunnels.

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    • simeonvisser profile imageAUTHOR

      simeonvisser 

      7 years ago

      Well, if you watch the second video, you'll see that many crabs still perish by cars. But closing roads when they are really crowded with crabs is indeed a good idea.

    • mecheshier profile image

      mecheshier 

      7 years ago

      Great article. Amazing story. I am glad to see that the roads on Christmas Island close during peaks of the red crab migration. Thank you for the wonderful Hub

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