The very first time I heard the name Christmas Island many years ago, my imagination painted a beautiful picture of a colourful, vibrant place with the Christmas spirit. Later I read that Captain William Mynors of the Royal Mary vessel, named the island when he sailed past it on Christmas Day, in 1643
This Island was a detention centre for refugees and asylum seekers from 2001 until 2018 when the centre was closed. The detention centre was found to be inadequate in terms of size, amenity, and security. Several protests staged by the inmates of the detention centre demanding adequate facilities didn’t impress the relevant authority.
Recently I came across an article in a local paper which caught my attention as the writer described Christmas Island as a “Crab Island”. Its geographic isolation and history of minimal human disturbance has led to a growth of dense forests and has become a habitat for several small creatures. A variety of crab population exists in this island, the red crab, in particular, draws a lot of attention from the public. These crabs are purely land-based crabs. The red crab in Christmas Island is noted for its visual and impressive migration once a year. The red crabs spread over the land area in a spectacular fashion. Imagine around 50 Million red crabs migrating from the dense forests to the sea through the land during the breeding season and then returning to the forest in reverse migration after finishing their business.
The current red crab population in millions outnumber the human population of a few thousand in the island. The crab population is declining in recent years with an influx of yellow ants. An exploding population of the yellow crazy ant, accidentally introduced to Christmas Island and Australia from Africa is causing the ecological damage. These ants raid crab burrows in the forest in large numbers and kill them.