Christmas Island (Australia) – December 16, 2013 – After eluding researchers for over twenty years, the White–stripe crab (Labuanium vitatum) has finally been rediscovered on Christmas Island.
In October, photographer Chris Bray posted a photo on our Facebook site of a medium-sized, purple-coloured crab scurrying amongst forest foliage near Dolly Beach which he had snapped while on a visit to the island earlier this year.
Bray was unaware of the significance of the photo until experienced Christmas Island National Park Ranger Max Orchard logged onto the site whilst on leave.
“It was only on a whim that I checked the Facebook page,” says Orchard, who in over twenty years of field work on Christmas Island, only once caught a fleeting glimpse of the mysterious crab. “I remember vividly – two bright yellow eyes looking at me around a tree trunk in the middle of a rainstorm, but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me,” recalls Orchard.
“The last known specimen was collected in 1989 and it hasn’t been photographed since,” adds Orchard, a leading authority on the island’s crabs, having earlier this year published the encyclopedic “Crabs of Christmas Island” which chronicles the island’s rich crab fauna.
Orchard immediately alerted two of the world’s pre-eminent carcinoligists [scientists who study crustaceans], Professor Peter Ng of the Raffles Museum of Biological Research in Singapore and Dr Peter Davie of the Queensland Museum. “Both have now confirmed that the critter is in fact the elusive White-Stripe crab exclaims Orchard.
Christmas Island Tourism Association
PO Box 63,
WA 6798, Indian Ocean
Phone: +61 8 9164 8382
Fax: +61 8 9164 8080
See more at: http://www.christmas.net.au/