Cuba – April 2012: The road between Playa Larga and Playa Giron is 37km. In April the Land Crabs that live in the dry forest leave their cosy burrows and walk to the sea where they wash off their eggs, so producing the next generation of Land Crabs. The Land Crabs vary in size but are roughly 30cm across so quite substantial. They can move fairly quickly but have no real concept of traffic and so have yet to develop some sort of road sense, much like pedestrians in downtown Montreal. Now, imagine perhaps 500 people spread over 100m, all queuing for the latest designer trainer and then imagine a truck the size of an apartment block coming down the pavement and squashing them all, pop, pop, pop. This is what happens to the Land Crabs over the 37km of road every April, the only difference is that the Crabs are sentient whereas the jury is still out on those who will queue for designer anything.
When the road was being constructed the naturalists on the island put forward suggestions to mittigate the annual destruction. They wanted pipes under the road or raised road sections or even bridges. Nothing was done and every year millions of Land Crabs die under the wheels of the trucks, buses and cars that use the route. While we were there we did not squash a single crab, there were some close scrapes but the ABS worked as it should. On our last day we saw the true extent of the Land Crab movement when literally many thousands were crossing the road, filling the ditches and climbing walls to get to the sea. I don’t think I’d have believed that a Land Crab could climb a wall or chainlink fence but they can, it was increadible. You can actually see the movement and destruction in a video called ‘Cuba – Wild Island of the Mediterranean’, it has birds on it too.
The photos below show two of the colour types. The dark one predominates and this one has the eggs packed in there ready for release, the golden ones stick out as the masses swarm. The Land Crabs are plucky little devils and will rear up and show you their claws if you challenge them, funny when you meet one on foot, pitiful when they do it to a ten ton truck as there is only one winner. Actually there are two winners, there are lots of Turkey Vultures being very well fed along the road, and they have never seen a Turkey in their lives, split?
Just to clarify my earlier comments. I’m not for one moment suggesting that it would be a good thing to squash the sort of people that would voluntarily queue for designer anything, just that the Land Crabs are smarter.