Millions of flame-red crabs begin to migrate annually

Millions of fiery red crabs are beginning to find their way out of the jungle on Christmas Island, off the coast of Western Australia, as they march to ocean.

Videos and photos have captured the Christmas island’s red crabs swarming up over bridges, across roads and even escaping the heat by resting in the entrances to office blocks.

There are so many crabs that Christmas Island National Park staff occasionally have to sweep them off the road so they are not squeezed by cars.

The red crabs of Christmas Island have begun their annual trek.
The red crabs of Christmas Island have begun their annual trek. (Parks Australia)
So many crabs were present at the Drumsite settlement on Sunday that residents were forced indoors.
So many crabs were present at the Drumsite settlement on Sunday that residents were forced indoors. (Parks Australia)

On Sunday, residents of the Drumsite settlement were unable to leave their neighborhood due to a massive number of crabs crossing the roads.

Although it is a spectacular sight, it is not new to the residents.

During the migration, the staff at Christmas Island National Park protect the crabs by directing the traffic and sweeping them off the road. (Parks Australia)
A 'crab bridge' has been built to aid their migration.
A ‘crab bridge’ has been built to aid their migration. (Parks Australia)

Christmas Island National Park Acting Manager Bianca Priest said this spectacular natural event takes place on Christmas Island every year.

“The world-renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough described the red crab walk as ‘like a big scarlet curtain moving down the rocks and cliffs towards the sea’ and considered the filming as one of his 10 greatest TV moments,” she said.

“Over the years, visitors have traveled from all corners of the world to see this wildlife phenomenon.”

Barriers have also been set up to prevent crabs from spilling onto the road.
Barriers have also been set up to prevent crabs from spilling onto the road. (Parks Australia)

Migration begins with the first rain of the wet season – usually in October or November. The males start charging and are joined along the way by females of the species, says Parks Australia.

When they arrive at their breeding grounds by the sea, the crabs will take a dip to rebuild moisture.

Then the breeding begins.

After mating, male crabs will take another dip before starting the journey back to the jungle.

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The females remain in the caves.

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