With an El Nino weather pattern extending its hold on a longer dry season, Christmas Island is gearing up for an extraordinary natural phenomenon - the annual red crab migration in time for, well, Christmas.
Last year the migration happened in October but in 2023 it is anticipated to create a mesmerising red spectacle in December.
Renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough has cited the Christmas Island red crab migration as one of the top moments in his illustrious TV career, attesting to the sheer magnificence of this natural event.
Screening on Netflix, Attenborough's Our Planet II recently featured the annual migration of Gecarcoidea natali, when tens of millions of the crustaceans travel more than two kilometres from their forest habitat to their coastal breeding grounds. Christmas Island is the only place on the planet where this species exists.
"It's an unbelievable sight as millions of surprisingly large land crabs embark on an incredible migration, covering the island in a vibrant red hue," said Chris Bray, owner of the Swell Lodge luxury eco-retreat on the island.
"This awe-inspiring display has captured the imagination of people worldwide and makes you feel as though you're in the middle of a real-life BBC documentary, standing among one of the largest migrations on the planet.
"Christmas Island really stands as a testament to the marvels of the natural world."
Nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean, this island is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Its lush rainforests, diverse wildlife, stunning landscapes and incredible underwater experiences make it a dream destination for visitors who seek the path less travelled.
Visitors can explore the island's unique ecosystems, dive into crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life, and witness firsthand the red crab migration that has enchanted even the most seasoned naturalists.
Nature lovers can participate in guided tours led by expert guides, said Lisa Preston, owner of Indian Ocean Experiences, which offers tours and packages to the island.
"Though we are never certain when the migration will take place, the moon and weather give some guidance and our tours offer a wealth of local knowledge, providing insights into the fascinating behaviour of these remarkable creatures," Lisa said.
"The red crab migration does make touring a challenge, but the highlight for many of our guests is participating in crab raking to clear the way for the vehicle to get through."
She said Christmas Island also offers adventures for visitors all year around; exploring the island's hiking trails, birdwatching spots and secluded beaches.
The island is also renowned for its world class diving, excellent crystal-clear visibility and accessible depth for all levels of scuba divers, said David Watchorn from Extra Divers Australia.
"In the warm tropical waters surrounding the island, divers find a healthy coral reef, which supports a huge biodiversity of marine species, including many endemics, not found anywhere else in the world," he said.
"As the crabs get closer to the edges of the island, to replenish, mate or release their eggs, there is an always an additional chance of a memorable natural ocean encounter with a whale shark or an oceanic manta ray who circle the islands coastline."
The only real threat to the crabs is the invasive yellow crazy ant, which is being brought under control.
Sarah Coote, destination marketing manager at the Christmas Island Tourism Association, said visitors who miss the migration can still see the crabs year-round. And a month following the migration, the babies can be seen returning from the sea.
"There really is endless natural beauty to be experienced on this island," she said.
For travellers looking to escape the conventional holiday festivities and experience an extraordinary Christmas somewhere completely different, Christmas Island promises an unforgettable adventure.
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