I have seen ducks crossing the road before...but crabs???
I was confused. I wasn't even anywhere near the beach and yet there was this huge gray-colored crab that crossed the street, climbed onto the sidewalk, and then scurried towards the bushes in the garden. Where did this fella come from?
"I found this guy today. Do you know what it is?" I showed the photo to a local.
"That's a land crab," she quickly identified it. "We eat those," she added and asked if I've ever tried the country's popular dish called Crab & Rice.
It so happens that it's mid-August and still well into the crabbing season. The crab behavior I just witnessed was part of the land crab's life cycle. The geek in me had to learn more so I did some researching. Here's what I found out:
Land crabs actually live on land, burrowing in muddy areas where the soil and rock are saturated with water. When the heavy rains begin to pour -- usually in late May/earlyJune -- these crustaceans mate. About two weeks later (when their eggs have fertilized), the females must release their eggs into the saltwater. That's when they migrate from land to the ocean.
Andros, the biggest island in The Bahamas, is home to the largest population of free roaming land crabs. During migration and spawning season, its main road is blanketed with the clawed creatures. I've seen YouTube videos and photos and it's an incredible sight. Look at this photo by Tru Bahamian Food Tours, for example.
The migration typically happens at night and during a full moon. Here's how a writer describes this occurrence: "Each evening you will find folks all over the island with flashlights, burlap sacks, and 50 gallon drums lining the lone street in search of Mr. Crabby..."
Land crabbing in Andros has become an annual festival drawing not only locals but visitors from around the world. It's a big deal! The Crab Fest spotlights on local headliners, presents a smorgasbord of crab delicacies, and highlights culinary competitions. Of course, the main event is when locals catch crabs with their bare hands.
I have yet to visit Andros and experience all this because I missed Land Crabbing this year. For now, I'll leave you with this YouTube video that had me in stitches. Start at the 20-second mark.
"Ladies and gentlemen...This is breaking news. There are crabs, crabs everywhere...Everywhere!"
To learn more about land crabs, click here.