Millions of baby red crabs return to Christmas Island

The people of Christmas Island are very pleased to witness another full cycle of this iconic island animal

Baby red crabs coated Ethel Beach yesterday morning

The sea stage of these new crabs' lives is over and they have now become land crabs

For the second year running, there has been a fantastic return of baby red crabs from the sea and onto Christmas Island. The adult crabs spawned in the sea four weeks ago and now the baby crabs are making their way back to start life on land and in the island’s forests. It is not uncommon for a number of years to pass with no, or very little replenishment of new crabs.

Just a week ago we could see the crab hatchlings, called megalopae, gathering at the water’s edge at places around the island and knew there would a return of new crabs. But as the week has progressed the numbers of returning crabs has been increasing every day to something beyond our expectation. The east coast of the island has been particularly good with huge numbers of crabs coming ashore at Dolly Beach, Greta Beach and Ethel Beach. The north coast is also going well with good numbers of crabs coming out of Flying Fish Cove.

The crabs have had to dodge many predators while in the sea and not all will survive the challenges ahead of them as they find the best places to live in the forest. However, two very good returns in a row bodes well for the island’s crab population.

Rob, Christmas Island National Park