Thursday. March 7. 2002. The Daily News Opinion
Why soldier crabs march to sea
OiasrelDmR anreroogira. Croi,
i& a/M lv New omnathd coh tL
We all know the story of Nonh. how
God asked him to build an ark because
lie intended to destroy the world by
flood. What is so interesting about this
event is how ature coopepnled with the
Creator. Animals of all kinds and
specieswent into thearkwithouthe aid
orman. It wasan csod ofamimals.
Today, apme species r uenimnlls and
linects still move in large numbers
'as hy migrate from place to place.
A the Virgin lands don't have
the large landmass like Africa where
cenain speciesofanimals migrate from
coauny teo country, we do have animals
that migra by following their ancm -
A few years ag e lale George A.
Seaman received a enoe from Jennie
Lawac telling him that crabs were
scaring the guests at St Croix By the
The noe stmes "DearGeacge Fvery
year as you know we have a problem
and seem scared about this exodus;
hicrfire. we havm decaled to male this
diedwieti into an advantage by glv-
ing the history and habis of the soldier
crab. I understand you have this infor-
mation and would appreciate if yeou
could make it available to us for disins.
ulon among the guestss"
The ho l is locaredin thpelwhaee.
er thousands of ycar. crabs hanve be
making their migratory retreat. Each
year. hetwean August and September,
hnnmi crabs. known locally as soldier
crabs, head to the sea. The fact that a
hoarel is i their path doesn't stop them.
They are ansenng the call of their
ancestors to perpetuate their own
At Wills Bay and Caledonia Valley
"nun forest" on the norhwest side of St.
Cmix.a sdier cndrs sill make theirai-
al rip to the sca. I myself have walked
their path as I hiked through those hills
hundreds of so
the sea All land
cibs e no dif
head to tI
call of the
- to per
soklir cabs is
ed to living on
duce in the sca.
ihe hundreds o
woods and they
get 5o the e U
the makes and f
and eggs in gma
he tlid iools of
tHre, the eggs
will become tin
i empty shells, especially whelk shelds. in
which to begin their life on land Afaer
they s to recilperale tleTr ebnli
Olasee prior to the great march back to their
Davi homes scattered throughout the island
This yearly pfaaisnac is delightfulll a
DI Soldier crabs are harmless, unless
you trouble diembystickingyourfinbger
It is a sight to behold in their nippers They have a long cul-
Idier cabs marching to ral history with the calaved Africans
crabs migera to the sea of the Dmnish West Indies. They were
g Thesoldierorhe mrit the slave's principal msoraNV ill'5I.
farenn They were first boiled and then served
with white sauce pppereand butter
S_______ The slaves hunted themi. mostly at
night, with a lighted flambeau torch.
r between They would hit the crabs in the head
to prevent then farm running away.
nd September, T cyma edAsoldiercbhcause
abs, known y yareed andanytheir"gu hul s.
es" on their back. In Japan, they are
soldier crabs, called "ment me a house" because they
We sea. The move fam shell to shel
a hotel is Today. soldier crabs are mostly
us s ed fr ish bait and in some Carib-
I their path bean hotels for cab racb hraL.lhy
top them does the cab need a shell? Crabs lack
op them. the p ion of the hindm part of
answering the its body. Its abdomen is soft ad vul-
ir ancestors notable Forwtseuicheabtdome
is bent so tha it can fit in side shell.
etuate their The oumr pan or ihe abdomen bears
some lie appendages..which enable
the crlb o hold unro the inside oflhe
shell. Theirfur or five pasoflegsalso
ofth eggs in the female sarve the same purpose when walking
the signed for ihe grca or dragging its house around. In water.
the soldier cmb adapt. the weight of the hell diminishes by the
land, it still must repq upward pressure so the crab in spile of
The crabs will walk in its burden can aalously mun about
cr stones, rocks. aves. When in danger the crab withdraws
wdl even chmb tareso in Ihn t hell. When the shell ges too
pon reaching te water, small. they look for a bigger one There
males mix their sperms a almost 5.000qpecies ofcrash About
y yellow masses among 4.500 ase mre crabs. From this group.
the cast about 500 are solder crabs.
hatch into minute fne- Next lime you -ae an rnny of soldier
Which if they survive crabs heading toward the beach, you'll
y soldier crabs seeking know love is in the air.