Imagine this scenario. You’re on your way to work, taking your usual commute. Then, suddenly you find yourself at the end of a long line of stalled traffic. You look ahead to see what’s causing the delay and don’t see a wreck or road construction. Instead, you see a mass of red-shelled creatures skittering across the road. A sea of crabs has stopped traffic ahead of you and there’s no end in sight. Sounds horrifying, right? Well, this isn’t some H.P. Lovecraft-inspired nightmare. It’s life for the residents of Australia’s Christmas Island every year.
Of course, it’s Australia, the continent known for having some of the strangest and deadliest fauna on the planet. Why wouldn’t they also have waves of red crabs that swarm the island and block traffic? Luckily, the crabs aren’t aggressive and have one thing on their minds: mating.
About this time every year, the crustaceans make their way across the island. The crabs climb over walls, block traffic, scale buildings, and all manner of other things. The Daily Mail reports that some residents have no choice but to break out their rakes to clear the roads of the migrating crabs.
However, residents of the island don’t see the annual migration as a nuisance. Instead, the Lovecraftian traffic-halting sea of crabs is a huge draw for locals and tourists alike. It’s one of the greatest animal migrations in the world and they get to witness it firsthand.
Red Crabs Migrate Across Christmas Island
The crabs live in the tropical jungle on Christmas Island. Then, after the first rainfall of the wet season, males of the species start their long trek to the island’s coast and pick up females long the way. The crabs don’t much care about traffic or people in general for that matter. They’re just trying to mate, spawn, and go home.
The staff at Christmas Island National Park try to direct the flow of crab traffic in several ways. For instance, they build crab bridges over busy roads. Additionally, they’ll shut down streets that are covered in crustaceans. Luckily, local notice boards and radio reports let people know when to expect crab-related road closures. However, they don’t expect people to just sit in their cars and wait for the mass of shelled critters to clear the way. Instead, they encourage onlookers to get out of their cars and carefully stand among the migration.
Bianca Priest, acting manager of Christmas Island National Park told The Daily Mail that people come from all around the world to witness the crab migration.
All told, about 50 million crabs migrate across the island every year. Some will fall from cliffs or find themselves atop buildings, but most of the creatures make it to their final destination and keep the species alive.