SCUBA News 246
(ISSN 1476-8011)

SCUBA News (ISSN 1476-8011)
Issue 246 - December 2020

Hello and welcome to SCUBA News. Our complements of the season to you. We've all had a difficult year, but when you're buying your presents could you also consider donating to help those dive guides who are really struggling, like the ones who are part of AquaMarine Diving - Bali. We've dived with them and they are a fantastic team. There is no government support for citizens without work in Bali and no guest divers have arrived for nearly nine months. A small donation will make a big difference to the dive guides and their families. (Often one income supports an entire extended family.) To contribute go to

What's New at SCUBA Travel?


Bestselling Scuba Books of 2020

There have been some great books published this year which have made the list, plus some old favourites.

Nurse sharks

Cape Verde Calling

460 km off Africa, the diving around Cape Verde is in its infancy.

Emperor Red Sea liveaboard

Comparing Red Sea Liveaboards

Grab a bargain with the Emperor Red Sea fleet, with no deposit needed until next year.

Creature of the Month: Christmas Island Red Crab

Christmas Island is nearly 1500 miles away from its Australian parent, and is closer to Indonesia. The diving is great there, but it is more famous for the Christmas Island Red Crabs

Christmas Island Red Crab
Christmas Island Red Crab with eggs - photo credit: Christopher Andrew Bray, CC-BY-SA-4.0

At the start of the wet season, between October and December, the Red Crabs start their annual migration. Forty million of them pack their bags and travel to the coast from their rain forest homes. The first to set off are the males living furthest inland. They are joined by more and more crabs as the march progresses towards the sea.

Christmas Islanders have built bridges to help the migrating Christmas Island Red Crab
Christmas Islanders have built bridges to help the migrating Red Crabs - photo credit: Alex Cairns, CC-BY-SA-4.0

They make the journey to spawn - dropping their eggs into the sea. This happens before sunrise on a spring tide during the last quarter of the moon. The crabs walk in straight lines, but not to the nearest coast: most travel towards the northwest shore. They can walk over 14 km a day, but 680 m is more common. When rains are late the crabs rush to seaside. If not then they linger for up to a week on the way to feed. This behavior implies that the crabs are able to judge how far away they are from the shore during the migration.

Red Crab on Christmas island

When they reach the coast, after a dip in the sea the males dig a burrow for mating. After mating the males again immerse themselves in the water before the long walk home.

The females stay in the burrows, brooding their eggs for a couple of weeks. When the time is right, at high tide they jettison their eggs into the sea then make the return trip.

Christmas Island Red Crab
Photo credit: Rebecca Dominguez, CC-BY-SA-3.0

The eggs immediately hatch into larvae which grow into tiny animals called megalopae. After about a month these emerge from the ocean and moult into baby crabs. Four years later these crabs will repeat the migration and the cycle begins again.

Christmas Island Red Crab megalop
Christmas Island Red Crab megalop - photo credit: Christopher Andrew Bray, CC-BY-SA-4.0

Some years hardly any baby crabs make it out of the sea. Whale sharks and manta rays feast on them and few escape. Every so often though massive numbers survive.

Whale shark
Photo credit: Tim Nicholson

Phylum: Arthropoda > Sub-Phylum: Crustacea > Class: Malacostraca > Subclass: Eumalacostraca > Order: Decapoda > Species: Gecarcoidea natalis

Further Reading and References

Agnieszka M. Adamczewska and Stephen Morris Ecology and Behavior of Gecarcoidea natalis, the Christmas Island Red Crab, During the Annual Breeding Migration, The Biological Bulletin 200, no.3 (Jun 2001).
Red crabs and migration | Christmas Island National Park, Australian Government

Diving News From Around the World

Our round up of the best underwater news stories of the past month. For breaking news see our Twitter page or RSS feed


99.8% of shark fins come from Indo-Pacific
Conservation efforts in the Atlantic Ocean may be working for one of the most popular - and endangered - species that ends up in the global shark fin trade.

Borocay clean up

Stop the mass slaughter of dolphins by the fishing industry in EU waters
Thousands of short-beaked common dolphins are being killed by fishing vessels targeting pelagic fish species in EU waters. This barbaric practice is dismissively referred to as 'bycatch' by the fishing industry.

Pigmy Sperm Whale

Scientists have called for a global moratorium on fishing in the Twilight Zone
Large-scale commercial fishing of mesopelagic fishes could have catastrophic consequences for marine life and the global climate.

Right whale mother and calf

Help save the right whales
The right whale population is dwindling: scientists estimate that there are only 366 left. Now is the time to act. Tell Division of Marine Fisheries that we need greater measures in order to save right whales from extinction.

Beaked whale

Scientists spot new species of beaked whale
Scientists on board a Sea Shepherd vessel say they found a new species of beaked whale near the San Benito Islands off Mexico's Pacific coast.

Factory ship

Surge of supertrawlers off UK before Brexit killing dolphins and destroying fish stocks, say ocean activists
Ten factory ships have arrived in the English Channel in the past three weeks - a sharp increase that some suspect could be driven by Brexit.


Caribbean Blazes New Path Toward Protecting Corals, Fish, Communities
One size doesn't fit all, and that saying was at the heart of a recent decision to revamp fishing guidelines in the U.S. Caribbean.


Underwater use beckons for "neuromorphic" cameras
Western Sydney University are adapting their neuromorphic or event-based cameras for underwater use. They work differently to regular cameras, and are sensors more like the brain and the eye.

SCUBA News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. This means we are happy for you to reuse our material for both commercial and non-commercial use as long as you: credit the name of the author, link back to the SCUBA Travel website and say if you have made any changes. Some of the photos though, might be copyright the photographer. If in doubt please get in touch.

Photo credits: Tim Nicholson, Jill Studholme, Kristin Riser, Jianye Sui

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