Sep 16 - Pictures: Crab Swarms Overtake Island—Mystery Solved

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 09-16-2010, 05:55 PM         #1
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forsakenninja05 
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Sep 16 - Pictures: Crab Swarms Overtake Island—Mystery Solved
 

 

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Crab Swarm

Photograph courtesy Mrinalini, Bangor University

Migrating Christmas Island red crabs congregate on a beach in the Australian territory of Christmas Island (map) in an undated picture.

A new study solves a longstanding mystery surrounding the crabs: how the the normally sedentary species has the stamina to "undergo one of the most arduous migrations on Earth," in the words of study co-author Lucy Turner.

When the wet season blows into Christmas Island (map) each year, millions of Christmas Island red crabs hike for several days, from a high rain forest plateau down to Indian Ocean beaches, where the crabs mate in burrows.

"It's an amazing feat—going from not being able to exercise for more than ten minutes to walking for several miles," said Turner, a biologist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

But by sampling circulatory fluid—the equivalent of blood—from migrating crabs, Turner and colleagues discovered that a surge in the crustacean hyperglycemic hormone works with glucose, an energy-producing sugar, to fuel the epic trek.

The crab's endocrine system also regulates the ability of the crabs to access glucose from their energy stores, Turner added.


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Invasion of the Crabs

Photograph from Photolibrary

Children watch migrating Christmas Island crabs (file photo), which overtake Australia's Christmas Island at the beginning of the wet season, in October or November.

The crab march "completely disrupts most people's daily lives," even shutting down major roads, study co-author Turner said. But Christmas Islanders have "learned to live with it."

Some residents are also "quite protective" of the 8-inch-long (20-centimeter-long) crustaceans--schoolchildren put up signs encouraging people to drive carefully, she said.

"Having said that, there are so many crabs, some get squashed."


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Crab Swarm Spawns by the Sea

Photograph from Photolibrary

Once Christmas Island crabs arrive at their beachside mating spots, males dig burrows and defend them from marauders, study co-author Turner said (file photo).

A female mates in a male's burrow, then makes a beeline for the ocean. Her eggs hatch almost immediately after contact with the seawater, Turner said.

The baby crabs develop in the waters around Christmas Island, eventually coming onto land to repeat the life cycle.


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Playing Through

Photograph by Roger Garwood, National Geographic

Golfers, including these 1980s players, on Christmas Island have learned to cope with the annual crab invasion, Turner noted.

"There's a special rule for golf courses: If the crab knocks the ball one way, you have to go with it," she said.

Fortunately, Christmas Island crabs aren't just a nuisance. Their feces acts as a crucial forest fertilizer, and their burrowing turns and aerates the soil, according to the Christmas Island National Park website.


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Crab Standoff

Photograph courtesy Mrinalini, Bangor University

During their 2007 fieldwork, Turner and colleagues had to deal with curious crabs (above, two Christmas Island red crabs in an undated picture).

The zealous climbers got into the research station and even the scientists' houses. "If you leave the door open, you're probably going to find one in there," she said.

The same went for the basketball-size coconut crab (see picture), the world's biggest land crab, of which Christmas Island has the world's largest population.


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Beach Trip

Photograph from Photolibrary

Of Christmas Island's 14 crab species, the Christmas Island red crab (above, crabs migrating in an undated picture) is the most easily spotted, according to the Christmas Island National Park website.

The crabs burrow in a variety of habitats, including coastal terraces, dense rain forests, and even domestic gardens, according to the website.

During the dry season, a crab will plug its burrow entrance with leaves to keep the space humid—and disappear for up to two or three months.


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Crabby Tourist

Photograph by Roger Garwood, National Geographic

For the best crab viewing, Australian officials advise tourists (pictured, a Christmas Island visitor in an undated photo) to arrive during the last quarter of the moon in either November or December.

The crabs breed on a strict timetable: Unwaveringly, females spawn before sunrise during the last quarter of the moon, according to the Christmas Island National Park website.


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On Track for Disaster

Photograph by Roger Garwood, National Geographic

Of the hazards the migrating crabs encounter, human infrastructure is the greatest (file photo).

Christmas Island has erected some "crab crossings": walls or plastic fencing along roads that detour the crab swarms away from traffic, according to the Christmas Island National Park website.


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 Pictures: Crab Swarms Overtake Island—Mystery Solved

86 comments for "Sep 16 - Pictures: Crab Swarms Overtake Island—Mystery Solved"

 7 years ago '04        #2
KidKingGoD 3 heat pts
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$7,089 | Props total: 614 614
lunch!
 09-16-2010, 06:22 PM         #3
tht guy  OP
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 KidKingGoD said:
lunch!
just what i was thinking i'd be eating them mothatf**kas until i'm sick of em just imagine how much money you could save
 7 years ago '05        #4
Fresh|B 976 heat pts976
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$43,429 | Props total: 25078 25078
...I Remember Seeing This On Riley's Believe It Or Not. Got Something Do With Mating Or Whatever.
 7 years ago '06        #5
samsin420 39 heat pts39
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$5,945 | Props total: 487 487
Gumbo in full effect
 7 years ago '08        #6
outlaw7066 
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$676 | Props total: 0 0
Damn dats alot of money f**k a boat they on land
 09-16-2010, 10:15 PM         #7
Ca$h Out  OP
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f**k, thats alot of money..........wont be long till someone raids the place
 7 years ago '07        #8
Pistol Peter 33 heat pts33
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$26,679 | Props total: 15 15
s**t is making my skin crawl
 7 years ago '04        #9
ShaneDawg 2 heat pts
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$2,773 | Props total: 0 0
damn i would be eating good for awhile
 7 years ago '06        #10
Down-N-H-Town 6 heat pts
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$3,629 | Props total: 602 602
Gumbo, crab claws, the body... all they need is a potato harvest, some lobster and crawfish to invade that island and some corn and we'll have us a broil. Dominoes and music on deck
 7 years ago '04        #11
lethalastro 
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$2,206 | Props total: 23 23
i see no problems, only meals!
 7 years ago '07        #12
stogz 18 heat pts18
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$41,055 | Props total: 30352 30352
that sh*t look scary...
 7 years ago '07        #13
NuffGanja 117 heat pts117
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$35,711 | Props total: 14906 14906
we eatin good tonight
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 09-16-2010, 10:29 PM         #14
Motivated  OP
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how much are you all willing to bet that those crabs can scrimmage better than half the linebackers in the NFL.

the two crabs that are at a stand off>>>>>>>>>>>haynesworth.
 7 years ago '04        #15
LilKray 1 heat pts
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$1,304 | Props total: 2 2
 Pistol Peter said:
s**t is making my skin crawl

me too
 09-16-2010, 10:35 PM         #16
Blechle88  OP
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 samsin420 said:
Gumbo in full effect
 7 years ago '07        #17
JamcnPrettyboy 96 heat pts96
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$23,478 | Props total: 6127 6127
 stogz said:
that sh*t look scary...
that s**t looks delicious
 7 years ago '10        #18
Infamous2o1x 23 heat pts23
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$12,241 | Props total: 101 101
that s**t makes my skin crawl too but all i see missing from these pics is some butter and a pot of boiling water...

lets eat.
 7 years ago '06        #19
luckluck 17 heat pts17
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$2,907 | Props total: 97 97
Them s**ts aint edible. Just googled it. They are poisonous to eat.
 7 years ago '04        #20
King Kusanagi 36 heat pts36
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$8,941 | Props total: 3140 3140
 samsin420 said:
Gumbo in full effect

[pic - click to view]

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