SNAPSHOTS OF CHRISTMAS ISLAND
Christmas Island is indeed a fascinating island and very much off the beaten track. Volcanic with high cliffs reaching down into the sea. The interior varies from lush green almost rainforest to dry river beds, Banion trees and Australian scrub. Economically, the island relies on two industries, the phosphate mine and the now famous asylum-seekers detention center. Tourism seems to be a take it or leave it proposition and certainly no efforts were made for the yachts that came into 'port'. Of the original 5 moorings NONE were operational leaving a very difficult anchoring situation for all who come - deep water and coral-perfect to lose your anchor on. The people are a combination of Malay, Chinese and Australian with a strong muslim presence evident by the many mosques and call to prayers.
I toured the island with the family Stellamans who during the day gave a presentation to the local school children on their round the world voyage.
Varied and colorful sites: grottos fed by underwater caves and passages; blowholes, fascinating, at the edge of the cliffs with their high pressure spouts of white cold water and steam; waterfalls and much more.
Unique birds, some only found here, frigates, red footed boobies(Galapagos has the blue footed ones) and cockatiel-looking birds called Bosuns. Actually what makes this island famous from the naturalist point of view is the spectacular annual migration of "tens of millions" of brilliant red crabs. Every year in November they trek from the middle of the island to the shores to mate and release their eggs in the sea. In fact, imposing red signs at almost every major intersection advertise which roads are closed due to this mighty march. And then there is the 'robber' crabs...unique in shape and their penchant for carting away anything that one may leave around.
Finally a visit to the local park ranger who every afternoon at precisely 4:30 is met by a whole host of frigate birds expecting their daily handout of fish. Frigates are scavengers and in fact, as I would sit on the boat, I would often hear a rather desperate, raspy sound from above. A quick look will usually reveal 5 or more frigates chasing a terrified booby that has just caught a fish. And predictably, through this intimidation the booby usually drops his catch and....the frigates eat.
It was an all too quick visit to an island that really deserves days admiring its uniqueness. Here I offer a few quick unedited snapshots of Christmas Island.