Christmas Island: 50 Million Crabs March to the Sea in World’s Largest Migration


Every year, 50 million crabs march across Christmas Island to the sea to spawn in what is arguably the world’s largest migration. The island has limited air transport and accommodation.

The annual crab migration across Christmas Island to the sea, which has been called one of the planet’s most spectacular migrations, usually gets underway in January. 

In an amazing coincidence, it took place in 2011 on Christmas Day! What a surprise for Santa Clause!

The phenomenon took place earlier than usual that year because of unusual weather conditions (global warming?) and the timing of the full moon (oh, oh!), which caused the island’s red land crabs to start spawning earlier than usual, creating an “eye popping spectacle” for both residents and tourists.

And in case you don’t know what “spawning” means, it means dropping one’s eggs in the sea.  

They turn the island’s roads, golf course (where there’s a penalty stroke should your ball accidentally hit one!) and beaches into a crimson carpet as they scuttle from the sea,” says Linda Cash of the Christmas Island Tourism Association.

Steps to Reduce Crab Casualties

Thousands of crabs are killed by cars as they cross the roads each year. Thanks to an unusual green initiative launched in 2011, members of the community help to reduce crab casualties by setting up specially designed bridges, grids, and barriers that allow the crabs to cross roads in safety.

“The way in which the community has whole-heartedly supported these initiatives is resulting in a much lower death rate amongst the crabs than in previous years,” says Michael Misso, Manager of the Christmas Island National Park.

“Some islanders are even planning to clear a special landing zone of the famous crabs on Christmas Eve for Santa’s sleigh.”

Christmas Island 101

Have you ever wondered how Christmas Island got its name? Captain Mynors of the British ship Royal Marywho arrived on the remote South Pacific island on 25 December 1643 and dubbed it Christmas Island.

Christmas Island is an Australian territory. It is located in the Pacific Island. It has a population of more than 2,000 people, most of whom are ethnically Chinese and Malaysian.

Christmas Island Airport is served by Virgin Atlantic Regional Airlines, which offers regularly scheduled flights to Perth in Western Australia.

A charter airline also links the island with Jakarta, Indonesia.

Christmas Island has several small lodges and cottages as well as one hotel, the Christmas Island Resort. It has 156 rooms and suites as well as a restaurant and a bar and nightclub.

The hotel originally had a casino, but it is not currently in operation.


Christmas Island Resort, 1 Golf Course Casino Road, Waterfall Bay, Christmas Island, Australia; Telephone: 61-809164-8888.

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