Huge baby red crab return for Christmas Island

A female with eggs, surrounded by returning babies

There’s a baby boom on Christmas Island, with a record number of baby red crabs returning from the ocean this year.

It’s thought to be the biggest return in 25 years.

Millions, perhaps even billions, of babies emerged from the sea in January – forming a stunning moving carpet across beaches, up sea cliffs, over walls, along roads and into the rainforest.

Park staff work with the community to protect crabs migrating and returning

The return migration follows December’s adult crab migration, when the female red crabs released their eggs into the sea. The large number of crabs returning is most likely a result of a number of factors including good sea conditions such as currents, swell, winds and temperatures.

Every year Christmas Island National Park rangers work with the local community to keep the crabs safe and to clear a path for them on their journey to and from the beaches by closing roads, maintaining ‘crab crossings’ and controlling the threat of crazy ants.

Baby red crabs on Ethel Beach

This year their brilliant work has been awarded with an Australia Day Award from Christmas Island Administrator, Barry Haase.

The red crab migration is a great feat of nature that happens each wet season on Christmas Island, as long as there’s enough rain. The red crabs aren’t found anywhere else in the world and are extremely important to the island’s rich biodiversity.

Tanya, Parks Australia