PLAYA GIRON, Cuba (AP) – Every year in Cuba, millions of crabs emerge from the forest in early spring rains, heading for the waters of Swine Bay, crossing streets and highways on a perilous journey to mate and reproduce.
Now underway, the migration raises concerns among drivers trying to swerve in an often futile attempt not to kill the crustaceans. The crabs are a nuisance to the residents, but the sight of their crossroads is a marvel to tourists and other first-time spectators.
“They came here before us,” said Amaury Urra, a 50-year-old hiking guide who spent his entire life in this part of the Ciénega de Zapata, the largest wetland in the Caribbean, especially picturesque against turquoise seawater. and the coastal cliffs. “We’m used to this.”
“Where I live, which is in the center of the city of Girón, the crabs do not get there that much,” even though there are plenty on the outskirts, he said.
Located about 180 kilometers (110 miles) southeast of Havana, the area was the scene of a failed 1961 invasion by Cuban exiles who signed up for a covert CIA-funded operation to overthrow Fidel Castro.
This year, the crabs started their journey early. At the end of March, the municipal authorities issued a warning to drivers to avoid traveling in the morning and evening hours – the preferred crossing times for the crabs. Environmentalists usually demand the closure of the main road, especially at important migration times.
The passage of the red crustaceans – the species is called gecarcinus ruricola – can last until July. The largest amount of traffic takes place between April and May. Residents need to be careful: When crabs feel threatened, they can puncture car tires with their pliers.
Official figures estimate that about 3.5 million crabs die each season on the road, many crushed by passing vehicles. They take a minute and a half to cross.
This type of crab lives and migrates in the Bahamas, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Dominica. But only here, and perhaps in another part of the coast towards the neighboring province of Cienfuegos, does its road collide so dramatically with human traffic.