Maps

A crabtivating journey: Street View joins a crab migration of millions on Christmas Island

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From herds of elephants in Kenya to penguins in Antarctica and frogs in the Amazon, the Street View Trekker has met some charming characters on its journeys around the world.  This week, Street View is venturing to Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, to join more than 45 million local residents for their annual trip from the forests to seas. Christmas Island’s famous, endemic red crabs have begun their once-a-year migration

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Red crabs marching in the rainforest.

For most of the year, these land crabs stay burrowed in Christmas Island’s lush damp forests to preserve body moisture and protect themselves from harsh sunlight. But each year, they emerge from the forest shelter to march to the sea to spawn near the coastal waters. These bright red residents wait patiently for a precise alignment of the rains, moon cycle and tides to commence their journey. They’re starting to paint the town red and Dr. Alasdair Grigg on behalf of Parks Australia, is carrying the Street View Trekker to collect imagery of this yearly miracle for all to see. The migration concludes on the ocean shores when the highest density of crabs spawn and lay their eggs in the sand—a finale forecasted for December 13.

The volume of red crabs presents unprecedented conditions for the Street View image capture. As crabs crowd the roads, boardwalks and beaches, each step must be taken with care. Fortunately, crabs have right of way on Christmas Island, and Parks Australia has built walls and fencing along roads to direct the crossers to safety.

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Whether you’re in Ballarat, Bogota or Berlin, soon you’ll be able to experience the Christmas Island crab migration, and its grand finale (the spawning) on Street View. We invite you to join this marvelous march—and see why Sir David Attenborough calls this phenomenon one of the “most astonishing and wonderful sights.” You can expect to see the imagery from this collection on Street View in early 2018.