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CHRISTMAS ISLAND

Christmas Island

Australia

CHRISTMAS'

SEA OF RED 聖誕島之紅色海洋

Text & Photo

Seanna Cronin

M

ost dive trips, no matter the location, follow the same pattern. A few modes of transportation, arrival, set up and eagerly await the next day’s diving. Wake up, dive dive dive, eat, drink, download photos, sleep. Repeat. Lament and cherish the final dive, exchange contact details with newfound friends, pack up and go home. My trip to Christmas Island broke that mold. It was the first time I was just as interested in what was happening on land as underwater. Don’t get me wrong, the diving was amazing – 40m plus visibility, beautiful coral reefs, dolphins and manta rays. But it’s easy to be overshadowed by one of nature’s most spectacular events – the red landcrab migration.

Sea of Red The red land-crab is fairly bright in coloration but otherwise an unremarkable crustacean if not for its spawning ritual in mind-boggling numbers. The crabs live in humid burrows during the dry months and spend more time out and about on the forest floor during the rainy season. But each Australian summer these crabs become impossible to ignore; they leave the safety of the high forests and migrate to Christmas Island’s coastline. Estimates of the island’s red land crab population range from 60 to 120 million – that’s a lot of football-sized crabs for a 135sq km hunk of rock. And that’s not even counting the 20-odd other species of crabs that also call Christmas Island

CHRISTMAS ISLAND RED CRABS HOMELAND

AUSTRALIA Located 2,600 kilometers northwest of the Western Australian city of Perth, 360 kilometers south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and 975 kilometers end of the Cocos Islands.

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Christmas Island

top: Female red land crabs, laden with thousands of eggs, descend down Christmas Island's steep volcanic cliffs to spawn in the ocean.

上圖

home, such as the large robber or coconut crab. During migration, the island’s beaches, cliff faces and roads are covered in a moving red carpet. The crabs are compelled to descend down the steep hillsides because while they may be land-based, each crab’s life starts in the ocean.

eggs, which go through seven larval stages in the ocean, are vulnerable to a myriad of conditions and variables still not fully understood by scientists.

The adult crabs must dip in the ocean before mating. The females then brood their eggs in burrows close to the shore before returning to the ocean to release their precious cargo. It’s this spawning event – governed by the start of the rainy season and the moon – that attracts visitors from around the world. In the hour before sunrise the female crabs cautiously approach the water’s edge, and when they feel the timing is right, they lift their front pincers and shake thousands of tiny brown eggs free. The darkness keeps the crabs from drying out and helps their eggs to slip past predators on the reef. Be prepared to set your alarm for 3 am in order to be at the beach by 4 am. When the sun rises, the crabs will stop releasing their eggs. But it’s worth sticking around to take photos of the crabs on the beach in the early morning sunlight. Three to four weeks later, fingernail-sized baby crabs emerge from the ocean to start their life on the land, retracing the steps of their parents as they climb up into the forest. But the tiny

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母紅蟹懷著成千上萬顆的蟹卵潛下聖誕島陡峭的火山礁岩

準備在海中產卵

“It can be a smattering of crabs or it can be wall-to-wall,” said Christmas Island National Park ranger Max Orchard, who has been monitoring the spawnings for the past 20 years. “They’re sort of at the mercy of the wind and tides and the sea.” The release of the eggs draws predators far and wide. Everything from local reef fish to whale sharks feast on the smorgasbord, but as Christmas Island’s robust population show enough crabs that survive into adulthood to maintain its nickname – The Kingdom of The Crabs.

Beauty in Isolation Red land crabs are not the only reason why Christmas Island has been dubbed the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean.” This isolated volcanic island, which is 2,650 km from Perth and 360 km from Indonesia, is home to 16 endemic plant species, seven endemic species of land and shore birds and the endemic Christmas Island Frigatebird. More than two thirds of the island is designated as national park, making it a bird lover’s paradise. Variety abounds underwater as well. The pristine fringing

Australia

top: Lit up by a flash, these two crabs were using the cover of pre-dawn darkness to release their fertilized eggs into the ocean in a special "crab dance."

上圖 閃光燈下 受精卵

大部分的潛水之旅 無論地點為何 都遵循著相同的模式 那 就是 採取幾種不同的交通方式 抵達目的地 安頓 然後熱切地 等待著第二天的潛水活動 接著 起床 潛水 潛水 潛水 吃東 西 喝東西 下載照片 睡覺 然後重複所有的流程 最後 感傷 並珍惜你的最後一次潛水機會 與你新認識的朋友們交換聯絡資 料 收拾行李 然後打道回府 不過 我的聖誕島之旅可不是這樣 的模式

在遷徙的過程中 聖誕島上的海灘 峭壁表面和道路 全部就 像是覆蓋著一塊會移動的紅地毯 這些螃蟹被迫沿著陡峭的山坡往 下移動 因為 儘管牠們可能是棲息在陸地上的動物 但是 每一 隻螃蟹的生命皆是由海洋開始

這是我第一次對於在陸地上所發生的事情 就像是發生在水中 一樣地感到興趣 不過 不要誤會我的意思 潛水活動還是很令人 讚嘆 能見度40米以上 有著美麗的珊瑚礁 海豚 和鬼蝠魟 只是 這一切很容易被大自然其中一個最壯觀的事件 紅陸蟹的 遷徙 奪去它的丰采

這兩隻螃蟹利用黎明的掩護 以一種奇特的

螃蟹舞

儀式在海中產下

成熟的螃蟹在交配之前 必須先浸泡在海洋中 接著 雌性螃 蟹會在靠近岸邊的洞穴中產卵育雛 之後再返回海洋放走牠們珍貴 的小螃蟹 而正是這種螃蟹產卵的活動 受到雨季開始和月亮的 影響 吸引了來自世界各地的遊客 在日出之前 雌性螃蟹會小心翼翼地接近水邊 而當牠們覺得 時機成熟的時候 牠們會舉起牠們的前螯 抖落數以千計的褐色小 螃蟹卵 陰暗的天色讓螃蟹免於乾枯 並幫助牠們的卵得以逃過礁 石上捕食者的魔爪

紅色的大海 紅陸蟹的確有著相當鮮艷的自然色彩 但若不是牠的產卵儀式 以令人瞠目結舌的數量進行 牠仍然還是一種不起眼的甲殼動物 這種螃蟹在乾燥的月份裡棲息在潮濕的洞穴內 而到了雨季 牠們 則花比較多的時間在林地表層上到處走動 但是 澳洲的每一年夏 天 這些螃蟹變得讓人無法忽視 牠們會離開高聳的樹林 遷徙到 聖誕島的沿海地帶 聖誕島上的紅陸蟹數量 估計約有6千萬隻到1.2億隻 就面 積135平方公里的這一大塊礁石來說 這種足球大小的螃蟹 其數 量是非常非常的驚人 而這還不包括20多種以聖誕島為家的螃蟹 例如大強盜蟹或椰子蟹

所以 做好準備 將你的鬧鐘設定在凌晨3點 好讓你可以在凌 晨4點之前到達海灘 雖然 流連在清晨陽光照耀下的海灘拍攝螃 蟹的照片也是相當值得做的一件美事 但是 當太陽升起時 螃蟹 就不會再產卵 等到三至四個星期之後 如指甲般大小的螃蟹寶寶會從海洋中 湧現 開始牠們的陸上生活 重新踩著牠們父母的步伐 往上爬進 森林裡 但是 這些在海洋中需要歷經七種幼蟲階段的小小螃蟹 卵 很容易受到無數的條件和變數的傷害 而科學家對此仍然無法 完全了解 螃蟹的數量有可能是零零星星 也有可能多到鋪滿整 地 過去20年來 一直監測著螃蟹產卵活動的聖誕島國家公園管 理員Max Orchard說道 牠們多多少少是有點兒只能任憑風 潮汐 和海洋的擺佈

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Christmas Island reefs quickly plunge from just a few meters to 20, 30, 40 and far beyond. Much of the diving is of the reef wall variety, and the clear blue water makes the perfect background for photographs of the sea fans and other gorgonians feather stars jutting out from the walls. What impressed me was that you don’t have to go deep to photograph gorgonians. They also line the shallow sea caves that dot the steep cliffs. Bright orange sea fans and delicate rosy pink black corals greet you at the entrances of Boat and West White Beach caves. Some of the best gorgonians can be found at Ryan’s Ravine and two excellent wall dives. But don’t forget to pack the macro lens as well. There are plenty of tiny reef inhabitants to photograph at the end of your dive on the top of the reef. Hama, my dive guide and owner of Wet N Dry Adventures, was particularly good at finding tiny nudibranchs, crabs and fish. He is also known for his eagle-eyed ability to spot whale sharks from the dive boat. Unfortunately, a large swell made the surface conditions too choppy for spotting whale sharks during my trip, but snorkeling with spinner dolphins and manta rays was a good consolation. We found the slim, energetic spinner dolphins every day, giving me plenty of opportunities to film the pod with my video camera. We even found what looked like a manta ray from afar, but on closer inspection, turned out to be a large grayish-brown egg mass. What animal it came from was anyone’s guess and it was a first for Hama and his partner Linney, who together have been diving at Christmas Island for more than 30 years.

PLIGHT OF THE RED CRABS Christmas Island is far from paradise for the red land-crab. While the lack of large predators allowed the crabs to flourish, recent man-made threats are negatively impacting the population.

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The release of the eggs draws predators far and wide. Everything from local reef fish to whale sharks feast on the smorgasbord, but as Christmas Island’s robust population show enough crabs that survive into adulthood to maintain its nickname – The Kingdom of The Crabs. 這種螃蟹產卵的行徑 吸引了來自四面八方的捕食者 雖然 所有的捕食者 從當地的珊瑚 礁魚類到鯨鯊 都會來盡情享用這豐富的大餐 但是 聖誕島數量眾多的螃蟹 顯示出有足 夠的螃蟹存活至成熟期 讓這個小島得以繼續保有它的暱稱

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Australia

這種螃蟹產卵的行徑 吸引了來自四面八方的捕食者 雖然 所有的捕食者 從當地的珊瑚礁魚類到鯨鯊 都會來盡情享用這豐 富的大餐 但是 聖誕島數量眾多的螃蟹 顯示出有足夠的螃蟹存 活至成熟期 讓這個小島得以繼續保有它的暱稱 螃蟹王國

孤立島上的美好事物 聖誕島之所以被稱為 印度洋的加拉帕戈斯 紅陸蟹並不是 唯一的原因 這個距離伯斯有2,650公里遠 距離印尼則有360公里 遠的孤立火山島 是16種特有的植物物種 7種陸鳥和濱鳥的特有物 種 以及聖誕島特有的軍艦鳥的棲息地 島上三分之二以上的區域 都是國家公園 這使得它成為鳥類愛好者的天堂 同時 它的水中物種也一樣的豐富 原始樸質的岸礁快速驟 降 從數米 20米 30米 40米到遠遠超過的深度 大部分的潛水 活動皆是屬於峭壁潛水 當拍攝從峭壁上向外伸出的海扇和柳珊瑚 羽毛海星時 清澈的湛藍海水成了最完美的背景 讓我印象最深刻的是 你不必深入水中就可以拍攝到柳珊瑚 而且 在點綴著陡峭懸崖的淺海洞穴中 還可見到牠們排列成行 亮橙色的海扇和精緻的粉紅色黑珊瑚 在 Boat 和 West White Beach 這兩個洞穴的入口處迎接著你 在 Ryan s Ravine 和兩處 絕佳的峭壁潛點 則可以找到一些最出色的柳珊瑚

紅螃蟹的困境 聖誕島絕非是紅陸蟹的樂園 雖然缺乏大型的捕食者使這 些螃蟹得以蓬勃發展 但是 最近的人為威脅對螃蟹的數 量產生了負面的影響 每年 被車輛殺死的螃蟹預估有50萬隻 而由於近期聖誕 島上引發爭議的移民拘留中心有維修的勞工大量湧入 這 個數字甚至可能會更高 此外 一個外來的螞蟻物種 長腳捷蟻 是螃蟹棲息地的一大片森林地

佔據了曾經

儘管螞蟻的體型遠遠小於螃蟹 但是 牠們佔據了螃蟹的 洞穴 迫使這些螃蟹離開洞穴到可能會讓牠們乾枯至死的 曠野 在螃蟹遷徙和產卵的期間封鎖道路 有助於減少對 交通的衝擊 而且 公園管理員和科學家們正在研究對付 這些螞蟻的誘餌和其他的生態控制法

Vehicles kill an estimated half million crabs each year, and that number may be even higher due to the recent influx of workers servicing the island’s controversial immigration detention centre.

但是 也別忘了攜帶你的微距鏡頭 當潛水活動進入尾聲時 你可以在珊瑚礁的頂部 拍攝許多棲居在此的微小生物 我的潛水 導遊 也是Wet N Dry Adventures業主的 Hama 特別擅長找尋微小 的裸鰓動物 螃蟹和魚類

In addition, an introduced species of ant – the yellow crazy ant – has taken over large areas of forest once home to the crabs.

他還有一項出名的本事就是目光非常銳利 可以從潛水船上發 現鯨鯊的蹤跡 遺憾的是 在我的旅程中 由於巨大的湧浪造成水 面狀況起伏不定 因而難以發現鯨鯊的蹤跡 不過 有幸能夠與飛 旋海豚和鬼蝠魟一起浮潛 也足以快慰平生了

While the ants are much smaller than the crabs, they take over crab burrows, forcing crabs out into the open where many dry out and die. Road closures during the migration and spawnings help to minimize the impact of traffic, and park rangers and scientists are investigating baits and other ecological controls on the ants.

我們每天都可以看到纖細又活力充沛的飛旋海豚 這讓我有很 多機會可以用我的小GoPro攝影機來拍攝成群的海豚 我們甚至還發 現遠處有一個很像鬼蝠魟的東西 但經過近距離的觀察 發現這原 來是一個很大的灰褐色卵塊 我們每個人都七嘴八舌地猜測這是來 自什麼動物 而這也是在聖誕島一起潛水超過30年的Hama和他的大 副Linney有生以來第一次見到的東西

螃蟹王國

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The island’s isolation in the eastern Indian Ocean also makes it a hot spot for hybridisation. You are guaranteed to see the blue and yellow-finned hybrid of the Indian and Pacific Ocean surgeonfish – one of 11 documented hybrids. Both surgeonfish and their hybrid can be found together in schools on the shallow reefs, pecking away at the coral. After your dives, make sure to do a bit of sightseeing in the afternoon. The Grotto, near Christmas Island’s golf course, offers a refreshing reprieve from Christmas Island’s hot, humid weather. This saltwater grotto features cool, clear water and interesting rock formations. It was known to early settlers as “The Dragon’s Breath” for the low rumbling sound made by the water as it rushes in and out with the waves. The sound is a little unsettling at first, but you soon get used to it. Another scenic spot worth a look are the blowholes, which spurt sea spray from an alien looking outcrop of sharp volcanic rock. Part of the road to the blowholes is closed during the crab spawning, so make sure to bring your walking shoes and be prepared to walk for about 45 minutes each way. The walk is a great chance, though, to spot robber crabs as the forest near the blowholes is one of their favorite hangouts. I came across half a dozen robber crabs during my hike without even having to leave the road.

由於聖誕島在印度洋東部的孤立性 讓它成為異種雜交的熱點 保證你可以看到有著藍色和黃色魚鰭的印度洋線紋刺尾鯛和太平洋線 紋刺尾鯛的雜交品種 紀錄在案的J一種雜交品種之一 在淺礁區 中 你可以看見這兩種線紋刺尾鯛和牠們的雜交品種 成群結隊地不 停輕啄著珊瑚 在你的潛水活動結束之後 下午一定要在島上觀光一 下 靠近聖���島高爾夫球場的 The Grotto 提供了一個清涼的場所 讓你得以暫時遠離聖誕島炎熱 潮濕的天氣 這個鹽水石窟擁有冰涼 清澈的海水和奇特的岩層 由於海水隨著浪潮湧進湧出 發出低沉的 隆隆聲響 早期的開拓者以 龍的呼吸 稱呼此地 一開始 這種聲 音令人感覺有點不安 但很快你就會習慣了 另一個值得一看的景點是 The Blowholes 海水會從裸露地面且 長得奇形怪狀的鋒利火山岩塊噴出水花 在螃蟹產卵的這段時期 部 分前往噴水孔的道路會封閉 所以 一定要記得攜帶你的步行鞋 並 且要有心理準備 來回的每一個行程都需要步行大約45分鐘 不過 步行是看見椰子蟹的一個大好機會 因為靠近噴水孔的森林 是牠們最喜歡的聚集地之一 在我徒步旅行的期間 甚至不必離開路 面 就碰到了六隻椰子蟹 在聖誕島上 你不用怕會無事可做 尤其是 當有成千上萬的螃蟹 正等待著你的大駕光臨 你會驚訝地發現 自己竟然可以在凌晨三點 就自動起床

交通 There’s no shortage of things to do on Christmas Island, and it’s surprising how easy it is to drag yourself out of bed at 03:00 hours when there are thousands of crabs waiting for you.

Getting There Virgin Blue Airlines offers direct flights from Perth to Christmas Island on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with fares starting from $464 per person, one way online.

When To Go Dive conditions are suitable all year round. Crab spawnings happen between late October through December. Estimated spawning dates are posted on www.christmas.net.au after the start of the rainy season. Whale sharks can be seen year round but the best time to see them is December through February. VISA

Visa

If travelling on a direct flight from Perth, Australian citizens require photographic identification, passports are preferred and overseas visitors may require an Australian Entry Visa and will be required to show current passport. ABC

Language

English is the official language, although Christmas Island has over 10 spoken languages, including several Chinese dialects and Bahasa Malay.

Currency AUD Australian Dollar.

Dive Operator Wet N Dry Adventures To see Seanna’s video of December’s crab spawning, www.vimeo.com/18357861

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每星期四 島的航班

星期五和星期六 Virgin Blue航空公司提供從伯斯直飛聖誕 從網路上訂票 每一個人的單程票票價是464美元起

最佳旅遊時間 全年四季都適合潛水活動 而螃蟹產卵發生在J月下旬至J二月 預 計的螃蟹產卵日期在雨季開始時會張貼在www.christmas.net.au網站 全年都可以看見鯨鯊 但是最佳的觀賞時機是J二月到二月 VISA

簽證

如果從Perth直接搭機 澳洲國民需要附照片的身份証 有護照會比 較好 海外旅客可能需要申請澳洲入境簽證而且會被要求出示有效護 照 ABC

語言

聖誕島有J種以上的方言 其中有幾種是中文方言和印度尼西亞的馬 來語 不過官方語言是英文

貨幣 澳幣

潛水業者 Wet N Dry Adventures 如果你有興趣觀賞Seanna的螃蟹J二月產卵錄影帶 www.vimeo.com/18357861

請參考


Christmas' Sea of Red