CIENAGA DE ZAPATA, Cuba (NBC News) — Cuba’s Bay of Pigs has been invaded again, this time not by U.S. backed anti-Castro forces, but by millions of red, yellow and black landcrabs.
Each year, after the first spring rains, the crabs march for days from the surrounding forests to the bay on Cuba’s southern coast to spawn in the sea, wreaking havoc along the way.
At dawn and dusk they emerge, scuttling sideways toward the sea, climbing up house walls and carpeting the coastal road that curves around the bay.
The stench of crushed crab fills the air and their sharp shells puncture car tires.
The Bay of Pigs, where in 1961 Cuban exiles landed in a failed attempt to end Fidel Castro’s revolution, lies within a national park where 80 percent of Cuba’s endemic birds, along with crocodiles and other wildlife, can be observed. With its deep sinkholes, coral reefs and turquoise waters, the bay is known as one of Cuba’s best spots for diving.
Cubans believe this type of prolific species, which are not endemic to Cuba, is toxic. As cars speed by, some swerving to avoid the ten-legged crustaceans, the cracks of carapaces zing through the air.
“Seeing all these crabs at the moment is nothing like what we’ve seen before, it’s just amazing to see the whole road covered,” said Australian tourist Kaliash Attwar.
Similar crab migrations occur in other parts of Cuba at the same time of the year, as well as in some other special ecosystems such as Australia’s Christmas Island.