Crabs invade Cuba's Bay of Pigs
April 25, 2017, 10:59:00 AM EDT By Reuters
By Sarah Marsh
BAY OF PIGS, Cuba, April 25 (Reuters) - Cuba's Bay of Pigs
has been invaded again, this time not by U.S.-backed anti-Castro
forces, but by millions of red, yellow and black landcrabs.
Each year, after the first spring rains, the crabs march for
days from the surrounding forests to the bay on Cuba's southern
coast to spawn in the sea, wreaking havoc along the way.
At dawn and dusk they emerge, scuttling sideways toward the
sea, climbing up house walls and carpeting the coastal road that
curves around the bay. The stench of crushed crab fills the air
and their sharp shells puncture car tires.
"Thirty to 40 can enter without you even realizing it," said
Edian Villazon, who runs a food hut opposite the sea, which does
not serve up crab meat. Cubans believe this type is toxic. "We
have to always keep the door shut."
The Bay of Pigs, where in 1961 Cuban exiles landed in a
failed attempt to end Fidel Castro's revolution, lies within a
national park where 80 percent of Cuba's endemic birds, along
with crocodiles and other wildlife, can be observed.
With its deep sinkholes, coral reefs and turquoise waters,
the bay is known as one of Cuba's best spots for diving.
Visitors have spiked in recent years, in tandem with the overall
tourism boom since the U.S.-Cuban detente.
"It's very surprising and impressive to see so many crabs in
one go and to watch them crossing so quickly," said 36-year-old
French tourist Emilie Lannegrand, adding it was "a little
heartbreaking" to see so many crushed on the road.
As cars speed by, some swerving to avoid the 10-legged
crustaceans, the cracks of carapaces zing through the air.
That does not threaten the survival of the two prolific
species, Gecarcinus ruricola and lateralis, which are not
endemic to Cuba, said Jorge Luis Jimenez, a science ministry
official who works in the park.
Similar crab migrations occur in other parts of Cuba at the
same time of the year, as well as in some other special
ecosystems such as Australia'sChristmas Island.
At the Bay of Pigs, the adult crabs return to their forest
burrows after releasing clouds of eggs and are joined a couple
of months later by the baby crabs which hatched at sea, said
For locals, the crab invasion is good business.
Ito Molina, 45, said tourists would happily pay $10 for tire
repair, a princely sum compared with the average state salary of
around $25 per month.
For patches, he applies condoms, which get put to many uses
in Cuba given how cheap and readily available they are.
"All the cars pass along this road, and they all get
punctures," he said. "So we stand there and repair the tires."
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Richard Chang)
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