Baby red crabs 'return' to Christmas Island

Baby red crabs 'return' to Christmas Island

Baby red crabs, named megalopae, started emerging from the sea in Flying Fish Cove and on Dolly Beach this morning.

Known locally as ‘returns’ these baby crabs follow a successful migration and spawning of millions of adult red crabs in mid-December. Whether there are baby crabs returning in other parts of the island is unknown as yet but Parks staff will be on the lookout over the next week for more babies. They usually emerge from the sea some time during the fourth week after a spawning event. We hope to see many more emerging over the next few days!

If you’re on the island and interested in viewing this amazing spectacle of nature, the babies are most active in the early morning and late afternoon as they avoid the heat of the day by hiding under rocks and leaves. Please keep an eye on where you put your feet though as they are really tiny and hard to spot when not moving in large groups.

Those that make it to shore have already had a tough life in the sea avoiding being eaten by fish and the enormous whale sharks that visit the island each year to feed on the red crab spawn. Now on land, the difficulties of life continue. After gathering on the beach for a few more days the baby crabs will moult and become real air breathing land crabs then begin the journey into the forest to take up residence with their adult counterparts. They will need to cross roads, climb over buildings and avoid being killed by birds and crazy ants in their way. The park will be temporarily closing roads where necessary to protect the crabs from vehicles.

Over the next few months more species like the blue crab, Jackson’s crab and the colossal robber crabs will be spawning and their own ‘returns’ will make it out of the sea onto the island.

Regards,

Dion, Christmas Island