Parks Australia

Christmas Island National Park

Christmas Island National Park

parksaustralia.gov.au/christmas

Red crab migrating
Red crab migrating

Latest news

Welcome to the latest news page for Christmas Island National Park. As you can see, there is always lots going on! Feel free to pass these stories around or contact us if you would like more information.

See our images for media

Behind the scenes of the annual red crab migration - video

Christmas Island red crab migration preperation video

Watch the video

21 December 2012

Discover the hard work that goes into preparing for the mighty annual migration of Christmas Island's red crabs. Park staff set up temporary fencing to keep crabs off the roads and funnel them to special crab crossings. The crossings need to be cleared of a year's worth of debris in order to be effective.

Staff and locals alike man the roads with garden rakes to help keep the crabs out from under the cars. This huge effort has resulted in a lot more crabs safely reaching the coast to spawn.

Watch our video to see behind the scenes | Read more about the red crab migration

 

Christmas Island birds app

Christmas Island birds - free iPhone app now available on iTunes

31 August 2012

Want to know more about the spectacular seabirds on Christmas Island? Download our free app today!

The island is a birdwatcher's paradise – from the seabirds soaring above the cliffs to rainforests alive with birdsong. Use our app to discover images, bird calls, info on how the birds nest, breed and what they eat. There's an interactive map to help you explore Christmas Island National Park and a guide to the best walks and places to spot birds.

The app includes lots of other helpful information like how to get there and where you can stay, plus all the other exciting activities available from scuba diving and snorkelling to watching the island's globally famous red crabs.

Download the app at iTunes | Christmas Island science and nature

 

Plant collecting on Christmas Island

23 July 2012

Christmas Island flora collecting video

Watch the video

A Parks Australia team swapped frosty Canberra mornings for the hot, humid conditions of Christmas Island to go plant collecting. Brendan Lepschi, Bronwyn Collins and Murray Fagg from the Australian National  Botanic Gardens and the Australian National Herbarium surveyed the island’s flora to update our knowledge of its native and weed plant species. The plant collections are destined for Australian and international herbaria and will form the basis for a reference herbarium for Christmas Island staff.

Watch our video to see the collectors in action... | Read more about the Australian National Botanic Gardens

 

Our blog has moved

19 July 2012

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Our blog has moved! Don't worry, you will automatically be redirected to the new blog site, but you may wish to update your bookmarks to:

blog.parksaustralia.gov.au

Get all the latest exciting news from Parks Australia!

 

Today we celebrate turtles

Green sea turtle hatchling - World Turtle Day, 23 May 2012

Watch the video

23 May 2012

To mark World Turtle Day - today, May 23 - our Parks staff have pulled together a short video in celebration of these wonderful marine reptiles.

The video was taken on Christmas Island, home to two species of turtles - the green turtle and the hawksbill. Unlike mainland areas of Australia where turtle nesting usually takes place between October and November, nesting is a year-round activity on Christmas Island. This little hatchling is a green sea turtle.

World Turtle Day helps increase awareness and knowledge of turtles and tortoises around the globe.

Watch the video | Read more about marine life on Christmas Island

 

Sorrel Wilby and Australian Geographic present Christmas Island, a natural wonder

Watch the trailer

Christmas Island, a natural wonder - presented by Sorrel Wilby

5 May 2012

Australian Geographic and Sorrel Wilby present a new documentary on remote Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. From the internationally significant birdlife to the phenomenal migration of the red crabs, we cover the best of these islands.

The DVD is available for purchase from Australian Geographic - watch the trailer now.

Watch the trailer | Watch another trailer from Australian Geographic

 

Diving at Flying Fish Cove video

Watch the video

Diving at Flying Fish Cove

4 May 2012

Christmas Island's waters are home to spectacular marine life including hundreds of species of tropical fish, dolphins, whale sharks and beautiful corals. It's an underwater paradise, attracting divers from throughout the world.

The island rises dramatically from the edge of the Java Trench, Indian Ocean's deepest point, contributing to the endless kilometres of spectacular drop-off diving with most walls being only 20 metres from the shoreline.

Braydon Moloney has captured the beauty of this underwater world.

Watch the video | Read about scuba diving and snorkelling on Christmas Island

 

Frigatebird | Max Orchard

Frigatebird | Max Orchard

Christmas Island National park management plan (DRAFT)

28 March 2012

The draft Christmas Island National Park management plan has been released for public comment. Once finalised, this plan will guide management of the park for 10 years until 2022.

The opportunity for public comment has now closed.

Download the management plan | See the media release

 

Watch baby red crabs emerging from the ocean

Watch baby red crabs emerging from the ocean

Watch baby red crabs emerging from the ocean

13 January 2012

Despite the recent shipwreck in Flying Fish Cove, hundreds of thousands of tiny baby red crabs have emerged from the ocean to begin their journey back to the forest.

National park ranger Braydon Moloney captured this stunning footage.

 

Watch the video now | See it on Facebook

 

 

 

The MV Tycoon in Flying Fish Cove | amsa.gov.au

The MV Tycoon in Flying Fish Cove | amsa.gov.au

Cleanup following Christmas Island shipwreck

10 January 2012
A cleanup is underway on Christmas Island following a shipwreck yesterday in Flying Fish Cove that resulted in oil and phosphate being split close to shore.

Christmas Island National Park emergency trained staff supported the Royal Australian Army and Australian Federal Police in rescuing the crew of the cargo vessel MV Tycoon.

As yet no wildlife or oiled seabirds have been brought into the national park, none have been found on the beaches and all reports indicate no injuries to wildlife with the exception of isolated fish deaths.

Parks staff are monitoring the beaches and wildlife, mapping and monitoring the spill twice a day, providing scientific advice on likely environmental impacts and standing by to support the wildlife rescue team and the volunteer islander work teams.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is managing the cleanup and wildlife recovery, with experts already on the island. For up-to-date information, go to amsa.gov.au/media or for media enquiries call 1300 624 633 .

Updates on Christmas Island wildlife can also be found on our facebook page

 

Crab bridge - Christmas Island National Park

This bridge helps the crabs safely cross dangerous roads

Driver alert! Red crab migration

November 2011
With the spectacular red crab migration in full swing, many of the roads on Christmas Island have become highways for travelling crabs. Crabs and cars don't mix, so if you're thinking of visiting over the next few months for work or a holiday, please help us protect the migrating crabs.

Park rangers are working to help drivers avoid crabs. There may be temporary closures on key park roads, while park staff will manage other roads in the early mornings and late afternoons when the crabs are most active. Locals and visitors are already helping out by planning their travel to avoid the crab rush hour, car pooling and making essential trips in convoys. Please contact Christmas Island National Park for the most up to date information on the migration and traffic conditions.

The migration is likely to last for several more weeks - the female crabs should spawn (drop their eggs in the sea) around 20 December, before making their way back to their burrows. After that millions of baby crabs will march back to the forests to rejoin their parents.

A big thankyou to drivers on the island for taking these special precautions. Every crab saved on the roads now protects hundreds of eggs... a great boost to crab numbers for next year!

Read the red crab migration bulletin (PDF - 471KB) | Read more about the migration | Red crabs

 

Response to the recommendations of the Christmas Island Expert Working Group

October 2011

The final report of the Christmas Island Expert Working Group was released in September 2010 highlighting the environmental threats facing the island and recommended additional actions to protect its biodiversity. The Australian Government has released a response to the recommendations proposed in the report.

View the response here | Download the final report here | Download the interim report here

 

Breeding program for blue-tailed skinks and Lister's gecko

September 2011

Building on a captive breeding program which started on Christmas Island in 2009, Parks Australia has teamed up with Taronga Zoo in Sydney to establish 'off-island' populations of the blue-tailed skink and Lister's gecko - insurance against any on-island disasters. Watch natural resource manager Mike Smith talk about these two species, or watch ABC News report.

Watch the ABC News story | Read more about Christmas Island's reptiles

 

 

Crab crossing grids have been built to help the crabs safely cross roads - Christmas Island National Park

Crab crossing grids have been built to help the crabs safely cross roads.

Plastic walls help funnel crabs to the crossings - Christmas Island National Park

Plastic walls help funnel crabs to the crossings.

Red crab annual breeding migration has begun!

October 2010
The adult red crabs have begun their spectacular migration from the forest to the coast, to breed and release eggs into the sea.

Breeding is usually synchronized island wide. The rains provide moist overcast conditions for crabs to make their long and difficult journey to the sea. The timing of the migration breeding sequence is also linked to the phases of the moon, so that eggs may be released by the female red crabs into the sea precisely at the turn of the high tide during the last quarter of the moon.

It is thought that this occurs at this time because there is the least difference between high and low tides. The sea level at the base of the cliffs and on the beaches, where the females release their eggs, at this time varies the least for a longer period, and it is therefore safer for the females approaching the water's edge to release their eggs.

Sometimes there are earlier and later migrations of smaller numbers of crabs but all migrations retain this same lunar rhythm.

The main migration commences on the plateau and can last up to 18 days. Masses of crabs gather into broad columns as they move toward the coast, climbing down high inland cliff faces, and over or around all obstacles in their way, following routes used year after year for both downward and return migrations.

Movement peaks in the early morning and late afternoons when it is cooler and there is more shade. If caught in open areas, in unshaded heat, the crabs soon lose body water and die.

Read more about Christmas Island's red crabs | Images for media

 

 

 

No early migration for red crabs

Great Migrations videos
See the Great Migrations previews

Despite tantilising signs of an early migration, it looks like Christmas Island's iconic red crabs will not start their annual trek until at least November. Early wet season rains and even a false start by a few exuberant crabs had the park excited about a possible October migration, but the crabs have missed their window.

The crabs' breeding timetable is fixed around the phases of the moon. Spawning (the dropping of their eggs into the sea) must occur before sunrise on spring tides during the last quarter of the moon, regardless of any other factor. The next dates for possible spawning are 1 and 30 November and 30 December.

Read more about the migration | Read about red crabs | Download the factsheet

 

National Geographic - Great Migrations

September 2010
National Geographic is releasing a new documentary in November 2010 called 'Great Migrations'. The annual red crab migration features in this seven part series - two previews have been released.

Watch the videos

 

Possible early red crab migration

September 2010
The annual red crab migration usually happens in November or December - but this year the wet season rains have come early and the crabs could begin marching as soon as October!

The crabs' breeding timetable is fixed around the phases of the moon. Spawning (the dropping of their eggs into the sea) must occur before sunrise on spring tides during the last quarter of the moon, regardless of any other factor. The timing of spawning is the only certain and predictable part of the whole migration; all other stages of the migration will vary with the prevailing weather.

 

Final report on Christmas Island's biodiversity

September 2010
A report on Christmas Island's biodiversity has highlighted the environmental threats facing the island and recommended additional actions to protect its native species. The final report from the Christmas Island Expert Working Group follows an interim report published in July 2009.

Read the press release | Download the final report | Download the interim report

Lister’s gecko Lepidodactylus listeri

Lister's gecko Lepidodactylus listeri

 

A new lister's gecko baby for Christmas Island

July 2010
Christmas Island park staff have hatched the very first Lister's gecko this month! The park now has 21 geckos, seven eggs and one hatchling! The endemic gecko (Lepidodactylus listeri) was thought to be extinct with the last confirmed record in 1987. But in 2009 park staff rediscovered the gecko in the very south western tip of the island. Park staff are now working hard to halt this species' decline by breeding existing geckos in captivity and trialling survey techniques to find new populations.

Read more about our reptiles | Read the National Recovery Plan for Lister's Gecko Lepidodactylus listeri

 

ABC Radio National's Science Show | Christmas Island's environment

June 2010
Most people know Christmas Island as a place for refugees. Few people know it as a place of natural beauty, where a unique ecosystem of plants and animals has developed over millions of years. Sharon Carleton visits Christmas Island and reports on efforts to protect this fragile environment.
Listen to the report on the ABC website

 

The Straits times - Christmas island crabs make waves The Straits Times

Three new species for the crab capital - Christmas Island

February 2010
Christmas Island continues to make news around the world. Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and National University of Singapore researchers have uncovered three new species during a recent trip to the island.

The species include two cave crabs - the first to be found in Australia - and a species of shrimp measuring eight to 10 centimetres.

 

Ridley's ground orchid

The endemic Ridley's ground orchid

Christmas Island orchid rediscovered!

November 2009
An orchid not seen for more than 100 years has been rediscovered!

Confirmation has come in from Mark Clements at the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research that a plant specimen collected on Christmas Island by visiting research scientist Dr Peter Green is indeed the endemic Ridley's ground orchid (Zeuxine exilis Ridl.).

This species was first collected and recorded in October 1904, by the first director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Dr Henry N. Ridley. 

Since Ridley's visit, over 105 years ago, the orchid had not been officially collected or recorded again... until now! Well done Pete!

It's been a year of 'rediscoveries' for Christmas Island - this year park staff members Dr Mike Smith and Brendan Tiernan have found Lister's gecko, not seen since 1987. Brendan's partner Amy also found the coastal skink, not seen since 2004 and Dion Maple rediscovered the Christmas Island pink blind snake - last seen in 1986.

A robber crab welcomes a free feed during the baiting program

Robber crabs were lured away with food to protect them during the baiting program.

 

Christmas Island heroes

October 2009
The hard work of the Christmas Island Yellow Crazy Ant Team is paying off - ant count data indicates numbers have declined by over 99 per cent within four weeks of baiting.

After six months of hard, physical work, aerial baiting to deliver low concentration ant bait to all known crazy ant supercolonies began last month.

The project started with the field crew traversing the entire 135 square kilometre island to survey ant density at over 900 waypoints. The team located 57 separate supercolonies. Each supercolony was then precisely mapped on foot, despite the incredibly rugged terrain.

These maps were used by the helicopter pilot to accurately deliver bait to the ant colonies. The team also conducted extensive surveys for non-target impacts of the heli-baiting.

Robber crab lures worked brilliantly to help minimise robber crab mortality. Amazingly, not a single red crab has been found killed by the baiting campaign.

 

Red crab annual breeding migration

October and November 2009
At the beginning of the wet season (usually October / November), most adult red crabs suddenly begin a spectacular migration from the forest to the coast, to breed and release eggs into the sea.

Breeding is usually synchronized island wide. The rains provide moist overcast conditions for crabs to make their long and difficult journey to the sea. The timing of the migration breeding sequence is also linked to the phases of the moon, so that eggs may be released by the female red crabs into the sea precisely at the turn of the high tide during the last quarter of the moon.

It is thought that this occurs at this time because there is the least difference between high and low tides. The sea level at the base of the cliffs and on the beaches, where the females release their eggs, at this time varies the least for a longer period, and it is therefore safer for the females approaching the water's edge to release their eggs.

Sometimes there are earlier and later migrations of smaller numbers of crabs but all migrations retain this same lunar rhythm.

The main migration commences on the plateau and can last up to 18 days. Masses of crabs gather into broad columns as they move toward the coast, climbing down high inland cliff faces, and over or around all obstacles in their way, following routes used year after year for both downward and return migrations.

Movement peaks in the early morning and late afternoons when it is cooler and there is more shade. If caught in open areas, in unshaded heat, the crabs soon lose body water and die.

Read more about Christmas Island's red crabs | Images for media