Ascension : Conservation Weekly
Submitted by The Islander (Conservation Office) 28.04.2011 (Article Archived on 12.05.2011)
The land crab Gecarcinus lagostoma, an omnivorous terrestrial crab that lives in burrows in most parts of the island but which has to return to the sea to breed.
The land crab Gecarcinus lagostoma, an omnivorous terrestrial crab that lives in burrows in most parts of the island but which has to return to the sea to breed. It’s a relatively large size and bright colouration must have attracted attention, but we guess that the sailors’ commonest response to a land crab was to a lob a rock.
The Land crabs or at least their shells can be found almost anywhere on Ascension, but are especially abundant at middle levels in the east of the island. Land crabs are nocturnal animals, normally spending the day in burrows, but they can sometimes be found under bushes or in the open daytime.
‘They migrate down to the beaches to distribute their eggs between March and April each season from Green Mountain.
It is certainly a wonderful sight to watch. At North East Beach, one can see the large Green Turtles making their way up the beach from the coast of Brazil in South America, hundreds of miles away. During the same time the Land crabs are also going down the beach from Green Mountain to deposit their eggs - this has probably has been happening for hundreds of years.
We were told by scientist that the Land crab population on Ascension were ageing, and that there were very few baby crabs returning to there habitat around Green Mountain,
Baby land crab seen on Nasa Track towards Letterbox
Many years back as told by the old folks, baby crabs were seen in their thousands coming through George Town making there way to the damp areas around Green Mountain.’
Now we are seeing more baby land crabs on various tracks migrating back up, some are an inch to inch and a half. This is good news, because when spawning there have been observations and indicating that this during this time, ‘Sand Cockroaches or Sand Fleas have cause problems with the population of the land crabs.’
“I have observed on some beaches during the spawning season of the Land Crab that thousands of Sand Cockroaches or sand Fleas wait for the eggs coming down the beach carried by the waves and devoured them instantly.”
So please let us know if you do see baby Land Crabs on this journey from the beaches to their habitat around Green Mountain.
Information used from previous articles by Stedson Stroud and Philip and Myrtle Ashmoles book – St Helena and Ascension Island: a natural history.
Please be careful when driving to avoid crushing the land crabs. Thank you.
Tours to see the turtles are run by the Ascension Island Turtle Group, with assistance from the conservation department. Please visit the Conservation Centre for more information or call 6359.
The Conservation Office will be closed on Friday 29th-Saturday 30th April. Will resume normal opening hour from Monday 2nd May.
Ascension Explorers will be starting in the August school holiday.
Volunteers welcome. Please contact Olivia Renshaw or Natasha Williams. Ascension Island Conservation Department. Georgetown. Tel: 6359. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org