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The amazing red crab migration of Christmas Island

Experiencing the annual red crab migration on Christmas Island is an amazing sight. This remote landmass, named for the day it was discovered in 1643, is an Australian territory that's considered "the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean." Sparsely populated, Christmas Island is ringed by the most hauntingly beautiful limestone cliffs, and shaped something like a tiered wedding cake. Each year, Christmas Island's beaches are filled with an annual migration of millions of the local red crabs.

While there are fourteen species of land crabs living on the island, the sheer numbers of the animals during migration season (estimated to be as many 100-120 million crabs) is something visitors will never forget. In addition, each adult female crab gives birth to an estimated 100,000 babies!

From October through December, adult crabs make their way from the interior forests to the beaches to spawn. It is a slow-moving stampede. While the crabs are not aggressive, seeing a moving wave like a gigantic seafood smorgasbord is a little terrifying. Some of the animals are 50 or 60 years old, and they are very large (nearly 5 inches long). The males are larger, and the females have daintier claws. The colors of the crabs vary: some are orange and coral-red, with a rare purple animal now and then. They eat almost anything, including grass, fresh or rotting leaves, and even dung!

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