Juvenile land crabs have overrun Blacktip Island this week, raising concerns about a major hurricane hitting the small Caribbean island. (photo courtesy of Sudzie)
Thousands of juvenile land crabs inundated Blacktip Island this week, exasperating residents and raising fears of a major hurricane striking the Caribbean island, locals said.
“Overnight, it seems, they all hatched out and are swarming over everything,” Goldie Goby said. “They’re all over the roads, clogging downspouts, filling cisterns and getting into all our cabinets. You can’t even walk anywhere without them crunching underfoot. It’s like a Biblical plague.
“Bigger worry, though, is old-timers say this always happens right before a big hurricane,” Goby said. “They call them ‘hurricane crabs’ because they mean a big storm’s coming. I’m battening down everything. And going to church twice a week.”
Long-time island residents concurred.
“Baby crabs flooding the island all at once, hurricane’s coming for sure. Everybody knows that,” Antonio Fletcher said. “Happened in ’04, then again in ’08. Blacktip was two islands then, storm surge was that high.
“I got water and food stashed in a cave, ready to weather it out,” Fletcher said. “Doubled the insurance on my house, too. Folks calling me ‘Chicken Little’ are in for a rude wake up. Sky really is falling. Or fixing to.”
Other locals were also busy with hurricane preparations.
“Me, I got my boat filled with supplies, and lashed to my roof,” Dermott Bottoms said. “Hurricane comes through, I just cut the cords and ride out the waves. Simple as that. Thanks to them crabs, I got enough warning to get that all set up.”
Scientists questioned the link between the crabs and storms.
“This mass hatching likely has more to do with rising water tables, or temperature change, than with future weather events,” island meteorologist Rayne Doppler said. “And I’ve found zero correlation between occasional island-wide hatching events like this and hurricanes. The only constant is these crabs hatch en masse every six or seven years. The last time this happened, we had no storms at all.”
Some residents voiced more immediate concerns.
“The roads are red from cars running over them—the stink’ll about knock you out,” Marina DeLow said. And they’ve taken over my underwear drawer. I kind of hope a hurricane does come along and blasts these damn things away.”