Monday, September 12, 2011

Caution: Cancun Crab Crossing

Not a real crab

As I have been preparing this post in my head, my inner voice has taken on a Marlin Perkins tone, a little "Wild Kingdom" theme running through my head (brought to you by Mutual of Omaha, the company that pays). One of the joys of living in Cancun is being surrounded by nature and wildlife. On the downside, with the continued growth and development, the city is encroaching on the habitat of all the amazing creatures that have lived here for thousands of years.. 

A real blue crab

And thus the need for events like the "Crab Crossing" that happens every full moon in September and October. During this time, the female blue crabs migrate from the lagoon to the sea, full of eggs and ready to create the next generation of these pretty little snappers. Before Cancun was a destination for millions of tourists, this was an easy jaunt across a sand bar. Now it's a dangerous game crossing a four lane road with speeding cars and the necessity to find their way around concrete hotels.

Desperate crab hunter

For years now local agencies have solicited volunteers to help make the journey safer for the blue crab. Citizens come out armed with buckets, flashlights, bug spray and leather gloves to assist in the move and ensure the survival of the species.  Last night Max and I made our way out to the hotel zone to participate in a crab crossing for the very first time. My little guy was pretty darned excited to be out doing something past his bedtime and contributing to "helping the planet". Like most little boys, he was totally intrigued by having "gear", the thick gloves, the flashlight and his own special reflective vest. During the orientation we learned a couple of important things. Number one, we were only to move the females, identified by the eggs on their underside. Number two, never touch the area where the eggs are attached, only lift the crab by the sides or by their limbs. Number three, we could pick up males if they were in the middle of the street.

Got her!

When darkness fell we headed over to the lagoon side of the street, anxious to do our part. We searched and we looked and we waited. And...nothing. We found a hole that had a crab in it, but every time a light flashed or a screaming teenager raced by, it ducked back into hiding. A friend showed up with her little girl and we went searching with them, ducking under the mangroves we found another little blue guy, but it quickly hid as well. The two little ones were getting pretty desperate when a group of teenagers approached with a bucket full of crabs. They were so kind, they asked if our kids had found any and when we said no, they let the munchkins take a crab each for their own buckets. Two smiling kidlets marched happily back to the crab reception area, feeling pretty darned proud.

A whole kiddie pool full of egg-laden females

The event will continue tonight and tomorrow (September 12 and 13th, 2011) and again next month. If you are in Cancun, come out and lend a hand! A unique experience and a chance to give a little something back to the creatures that were here long before we were. There are three main locations in Cancun, Playa las Perlas and Punta Nizuc in the hotel zone and Playa NiƱo near Puerto Juarez. If you haven't got your own gear (and I suspect most tourists don't travel with buckets and leather gloves), you can borrow some from the organizers if you leave your ID with them. If you are lucky, you'll witness the magical moment when all the female crabs are released on the beach and make their way to the sea, following the full moon and continuing the circle of life.


KfromMichigan said...

Fun it is .. I did it one year, but I hate the waiting!

Anonymous said...

That's such a great idea. :) So nice of your friend to give a crab to the little 'uns so they could feel like real rescuers.



CancunCanuck said...

KfromMich....If we as grown ups hate the waiting, can you imagine how the kinder set felt? :D

Ceri, it was a fun night. What made the "crab gift" even nicer was that it was a group of total strangers and teenagers at that! Gives me faith in adolescents again, haha!

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