Sea of red as millions of crabs bring Christmas Island to a standstill during annual migration

This is the spectacular moment millions of red crabs on Christmas Island began their migration to breed more of the fire-coloured creatures.


The sea of red crabs on their annual migration

A sea of red sways across the Australian Island from the forests to the Indian Ocean where the crustaceans will mate.


Spotted in their millions, the crabs are seen on their journey from nearby forests to the Indian Ocean.

It is an incredible sight that attracts thousands of islanders to see the phenomenon which lasts several weeks to and from their breeding ground and habitat.


The incredible phenomenon now attracts thousands of visitors to the island every year

IT specialist and amateur photographer Gary Tindale, 53, from Perth, captured the start of the migration two weeks ago and saw ‘the crabs just pour out of the jungle and take over’.


Known for their ability to ‘take over’ the island, the spectacle lasts for a few weeks as they pour out of the woodland

Gary said: ” The speed with which everything on the island changes is incredible.

“On Tuesday (Nov 18) the weather started out fine and there was maybe one or two crabs around.

“There were more robber crabs than red crabs at that time.

“But in the afternoon storms came through and that evening the red crabs were out in force.

“A day later the island had evolved into a red carpet; a sea of red as the crabs started heading down to the Indian Ocean.

“The main part lasts a couple of weeks as the crabs head down to the ocean to spawn.

“A few weeks later, the spawn return and a shimmering carpet of small tiny one inch crabs returns to the jungle.”

An estimated 120 million red crabs live on the 52 square mile island shared with just more than 2,000 residents.

During one of the most brightest displays of natural wonder many roads are closed to allow the crabs to cross and the island is brought to a standstill.

“The roads on the island close as the migration starts,” said Gary.

He added: “There are a few key roads kept open through the use of crab barriers and crab tunnels to keep – most of – them off the road.

“But the majority of areas are off limits for a few months for all vehicles.

“Where cars do travel, everyone is weaving around to avoid the crabs and sometimes it’s probably quicker to walk.

“They bring many things on the island to a halt, whole swathes of the rain forest, tourist style areas, beaches and trails are closed.

“If you are not walking there are lots of areas you can’t get to.

“If you are walking, there are some very long walks and you are guaranteed to get wet.

“There are lots of monitoring and some big fines.

“It is illegal to run over crabs and the police/rangers will happily fine you for each one if caught.

“Even worse is running over a robber crab as they are internationally protected.”

There are around 14 species of crab on Christmas Island.

It is so called because the island was discovered on December 25, 1643 by Captain William Mynors, of the Royal Mary, an English vessel with the East India Company.