Looks like we’re having an invasion…..of Crabs!
Rocky Point Beach on the South Coast of Clarendon became the scene of the traditional Crab invasion (Monteith, 2016, May 30) that happens every few years in that community. Similarly, but lesser known, is that this phenomenon of crabs invading the spaces that humans occupy can also be observed on Farquhar Beach and Milk River Bath (Deer, 2015, September 6) which is currently being renovated.
Most of the crabs are of three (3) varieties:
- Chinese Mitten Crabs
- Shanghai Hairy Crabs
- Mango Crabs
So what account for this sudden invasion of Crabs ever so often?
Crabs Invasions due to spawning – Lack of Mangroves forces them to forage inland
According to Dr Karl Aiken, the crabs have reached their sexual maturity and are following instinct to come ashore and lay their eggs, quote: “They made their way to the shore to reproduce. They must shed their fertilised egg in the sea, right at the water’s edge and then the fertilised egg goes into nearshore water and hatches, and when those eggs hatch, the larvae comes back to shore. So there’s a disconnection with the land, but there’s a strong connection with the sea. They then stay on land, grow to adulthood and repeat the process”.
Dr. Aiken was quick to dismiss the traditional Jamaican folklore that asserted that this phenomenon portended doom and gloom such as heavy rains or natural disaster.
In fact, he asserts that the crabs may repeat this cycle in a few months time as pointed out by Dr. Aiken, quote: “What I can predict is that in a number of months, I can’t tell you how many – there might be an invasion of young crabs coming ashore because when all these adult crabs fall, the fertilised eggs will hatch in the seawater, and if the level of success of hatching is very high, then in a couple of months, they will return to shore by the millions”.
This as the mangroves close to the mouth of the Milk River where it enters the sea at Farquhar Beach as well as the mangroves at the mouth of Rio Minho River where it enters the seat at Rock Point have been cut down by locals to burn coal. So goes the hypothesis as pointed out by Appollonia Davidson, quote: “There’s an encroachment on the mangrove areas along the coastline from Leith Hall to Rocky Point; that is the section where the Coral Reefs used to be. They are no longer there because of the overfishing of the area, and many other factors”.
The result is that the mangroves, the traditional spawning grounds of fish and crabs have been reduced, forcing the crabs to lay their eggs on the shoreline instead of the mangroves. Thus when the crabs hatch, instead of invading the mangroves, they instead invade the communities above the shoreline, some even making it as far as Lionel Town, north of Rock Point and even Rest Square, Milk River north of the Farquhar Beach.
But there is more to this story than meets the eye.
Destruction of Mangroves affecting Coral Reef – ParrotFish and Sea Urchin Ban needed
You read that right folks; the destruction of the mangroves for coal burning is not only displacing the crabs, causing to forage further inland, but it’s also killing the Coral Reef.
This as the silt washing down from the Milk River and Rio Minho is being washed further out into the sea, as the natural breakwater created by the mangroves is no longer there to hold the silt in place. This silt smothers the Coral Reef with its nutrient rich sediment, causing increased growth of algae which starves the coral of oxygen and increases the acidity of the sea water.
Combined fishing in Rocky Point and Farquhar beach, popular locations for catching ParrotFish and Sea Urchins (Deer, 2014, July 12), the Coral Reef has basically died. Any Coral Reef that is left in Rocky Point and Farquhar beach is set to experience sever bleaching this year according to the latest forecast by the NOAA (Deer, 2016, November 6) which is caused by rising sea temperatures due to Global Warming.
It is for this reason, an islandwide ban on fishing for ParrotFish and Sea Urchins as well as increase action against the Lionfish, which eat baby fish such as ParrotFish (Deer, 2016, May 12) needs to be declared by NEPA. ParrotFish and Sea Urchins help in the rebuilding and maintenance (Deer, 2014, July 12) of what little Coral Reef is left to preserve our Tourism Industry.
Otherwise, we’ll soon start seeing similar phenomenon along with increased beach erosion, which is already happening in Hellshire, St. Catherine (Wilson, 2015, July 19), Treasure Beach in St. Elizabeth (Shields, 2016, January 11) and Negril, Hanover (Frater, 2016, March 29) elsewhere in Jamaica.
- Deer, L. (2014, July 12). How Parrotfish and Sea Urchins ban saves Coral Reef, Beaches and US$3 billion Jamaican Tourism. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/07/saving-us3-billion-jamaican-tourism.html
- Wilson, N. (2015, July 19). Beach Blues! Hellshire Operators Hunting Millions As Shoreline Inches Closer To Cookshops. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20150719/beach-blues-hellshire-operators-hunting-millions-shoreline-inches
- Deer, L. (2015, September 6). 200 Acre Milk River Hotel & Spa Developement – How Future Plans for Milk River Residents means South Coast Developement coming. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com.br/2015/09/200-Acre-Mil-River-Hotel-Spa-Developement-South-coast.html
- Shields, A. (2016, January 11). Tales of erosion at Treasure Beach. Retrieved from http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Tales-of-erosion-at-Treasure-Beach_48336
- Frater, A. (2016, March 29). Negril’s Troubling Breakwater Saga. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/western-focus/20160329/negrils-troubling-breakwater-saga
- Deer, L. (2016, May 12). How a Parrotfish Ban with Lionfish replacement will save Coral Reefs. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2016/05/Parrotfish-Ban-Lionfish-Coral-Reefs.html
- Monteith, S. (2016, May 30). Crabs Swarm St Thomas Beach. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20160530/crabs-swarm-st-thomas-beach
- Deer, L. (2016, November 6). Why NOAA Caribbean Coral Reef Watch prediction of Coral Reef Bleaching requires ParrotFish Ban. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2016/06/NOAA-Caribbean-Coral-Reef-Watch-coral-bleaching-2016.html