|Earth laughs in flowers. [Ralph Waldo Emerson]|
Unfortunately, we aren't always as mindful of her marvels as we should be, or as protective of her wonders as we could be, so it's worth mentioning when humans show appreciation for another species by stepping back and allowing them the right-of-way for a change.
In an earlier post from July of 2011, I wrote about how airplane traffic at JFK Airport in New York comes to a halt every year to accommodate the annual running of the turtles. (So to speak.) Called We Can Fly With a Little Help From Our Friends, it's an uplifting look at how people go out of their way to help those pokey critters make it to their rendezvous with l'amour. They even go so far as to load 'em in pick-up truck beds and give 'em a lift. Well, today, we're gonna talk about another animal migration.
This one takes place on the other side of the world from New York, on an island called... Christmas Island.
Okay, so that picture isn't really a picture of Christmas Island. But that little guy in his Santa hat tickled my funny bone. Then again, if you think about it, Christmas Island isn't really Christmas Island, either. That's just the name some explorers gave it when they discovered it on Christmas Day. Kinda like those other explorers did when they discovered Easter Island. (Yep, that's another old post you might enjoy, called Everybody Loves Some Body.)
Here's a map to give you a better idea of where this little island, AKA Kiritimati, is located. There may, in fact, be some little white dogs living there, but it's probably safe to say few, if any, of them wear Santa hats.
In fact, there are lots of interesting critters on the island. Also presumably without hats. Or galoshes.
Lots of birds, especially. Birds who don't seem to care what kind of name we give them. Like this red-footed booby. He doesn't seem to be at all insulted by that name. Maybe it's because the island is overrun with boobies, so he isn't the only one stuck with that name.
Every year, at the beginning of the rainy season, usually in November, but as early as October, these crabs vacate their burrows in the woods, and head for the water. I'm talking a lot of crabs. Like millions of them. The males reach the beach first, where they dutifully dig new burrows. When the ladies arrive, they um, do what comes naturally. A lot of doing what comes naturally. Then the males skedaddle back to the woods, and leave the ladies behind to incubate in their burrows for a couple weeks. When it's time, the females lay their eggs in the water, and then head back to their burrows in the woods. The larvae spend three to four weeks in the water (trying to avoid being fish food, I imagine) before going inland. Words cannot do justice to the sight of millions of red crabs heading for the beach. (Kinda like a Spring Break for the animal kingdom.)
So how about a picture? Better yet, a video...
Isn't that something? As far as I know, islanders don't give crabs a lift to the beach in the back of their pick-up trucks, but park rangers do take steps to help protect the little critters as they make their annual trek. They close some roads altogether, and on others, set up aluminum barriers called crab fences, which funnels crabs off the road and into small underground passes called crab grids. Okay, so maybe some of this protective behavior may be based on the fact that those crabs have shells tough enough to puncture tires, but still...
The only thing more amazing than the sight of millions of adult crabs heading for the beach is the sight of even more of those little itty bitty ones leaving the beach and heading for the woods:
Oops, almost forgot. One more video, simply because it's funny... (and short!)
Before I go, let me ask you one question: what's the difference between a mermaid and a sand crab? Give up? Simple... one's a daughter of the sea, and the other's a son of a beach. (groan) A great big Happy Mother's Days to all you moms out there.
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
P.S. The Goodreads drawing for autographed copies of my book will be taking place on Sunday. (Sorry... for U.S. and Canada only this time.) If you haven't already entered, go for it!
[Photos courtesy of morguefile.com and Wikipedia.]