A “biblical plague” of 50 million cannibal crabs has moved on an island in Western Australia as they migrate from jungle to ocean to breed.
Every year, the amorous crabs make the same journey to Christmas Island. This is considered one of the world’s largest animal migrations. After rainfall in October or November, the tiny red crabs huddle to make the journey to the ocean, which can take several weeks. Following their migration, the crabs will have a space to mate once they reach the ocean.
Sir David Attenborough, the famous naturalist, described this migration as “like a great scarlet curtain moving down the cliffs and rocks towards the sea.”
“Over the years, visitors have travelled from every corner of the world to witness this wildlife phenomenon,” National Park acting manager Bianca Priest said.
The crab’s mating side, however, reveals a horrible affair: they eat their own babies. The crabs’ diet mainly consists of leaves, flowers, seeds, and fruits, but they become cannibalistic when their young return from their first ocean migration, with the adults consuming them.
Each year, workers spend months preparing special bridges for the crabs to cross and barriers to stop cars in anticipation of the journey.
All the migrating crabs making the 5,550-mile journey are expected to arrive on the island’s coast by the end of November. When the rain starts falling and the crabs realise it’s time to move, the males are the first to set out, followed by the females.
The crabs are expected to reach the coast by the end of the month, ready to scatter in time for the full moon.
A spokesperson for Parks Australia said: “With red crab migration in full swing on Christmas Island, the crabs are turning up everywhere, including at the door of an office block.
“Our staff have been out managing traffic, raking crabs off roads, and providing updates to the community on road closures.”