Christmas Island, Red Carpet Event: The Crab Migration

If you’re planning a trip to Christmas Island (an Australian territory located 1600 miles Northwest of the Western Australian city of Perth), I recommend you wait until the end of the wet season, which starts around October/November. The reason for this judgment call is not based on the rainy setting that generally doesn’t constitute ideal travel weather conditions, but rather because of the island’s dominating crab population that migrates (click to see amazing video) from burrows in the rain forest to ocean shores for their annual breeding season, releasing the eggs in the sea.

I’d like to point out here that the term “migrate” does not do justice to what occurs in these months in several stages and for 18 days straight. “Invasion” is probably more accurate. This is the stuff nightmares are made of. Over 100 million red crabs (FYI, the island consists of a human population of around 1400) literally take over the island as they embark on a synchronized journey to the shores. Many roads are closed to protect this creeping red carpet and there’s no stopping the creatures as they seep their way into anything and everything that crosses their path. The note “watch your step!” is taken to a whole ‘nother level on this island that is widely considered the Galapagos of the Indian ocean. To be fair, the red crab migration is considered one of the most spectacular wildlife migrations in nature. Christmas Island has many other attractions that lend this island its fame as an eco-tourist destination.

Estimated 2009 spawning dates: Oct 13, Nov 12, Dec 11 or Jan 10

Things to do on Christmas Island:

  • You can enjoy scenic walks through national parks that make up 2/3 of the island
  • Snorkeling and scuba diving at Flying Fish Cove, the main settlement on the Northeastern shore
  • Bird watching – the island is home to many endemic species

Fun Fact: Christmas Island is named after the day a British sea merchant discovered the island in the early 17th century on December 25, 1643.

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