Parks Australia has teamed up with internet giant Google to show off one of the country’s most incredible natural phenomena.
Christmas Island is located in the Indian Ocean, 350km south of Java, and it’s home to 45 million Christmas Island red crabs now on the move for their once-a-year migration to breed.
Parks Australia and Google will map the crustacean migration, which David Attenborough once described as one of the world’s “most astonishing sights”, for Google Maps Street View.
The images are being used to enhance* Street View, part of the company’s map app, which will allow users to virtually experience the migration — and the island.
Dr Alasdair Grigg, from Parks Australia and resident island expert will spend more than 30 hours lugging around a 20kg trekker (a portable camera unit) through remote parts of the island during the mapping process. The trekker itself features 15 cameras which take pictures every 2.5 seconds.
Google’s software blends the images to create the final 360 degree view and on December 13 will capture the crabs “spectacular” spawning.
Dr Grigg said: “Christmas Island is not on the radar of most travellers … we hope people can get a taste of the migration through the Trekker — and are inspired to appreciate the conservation values of the island.”
Chairman of Christmas Island Tourism Association Lisa Preston hopes the project will lead to international exposure to boost tourism numbers from the current “500 or so” that visit the island annually.
“Our national park is our best tourism asset … you won’t find anything like Christmas Island anywhere else in the world — and who better than Google to help us get the message out there,” she said.
Miranda Schooneveldt spokeswoman for Parks Australia said virtual tours would inspire not just the rest of the world — but also Australians — to visit the region.
“We want to share the uniqueness and beauty of the island with everyone — if we can share this message then this also helps with conservation and Google also understand and respect this message,” she said.
“And let’s be honest — what an incredible island.”
Camilla Ibrahim, from Google Australia and New Zealand, said: “The Street View experience is about making places more accessible and inspiring people to appreciate our unique fauna* and flora* … so much so that they do visit amazing places like Christmas Island.”
Google’s virtual tour launch of Uluru earlier this year — complete with rock paintings and interactive videos featuring traditional Aboriginal song and dance — reached an audience of 400 million, according to Parks Australia.
It is yet to be seen if Christmas Island will capture the same attentio. But as tech companies chase potential advertising revenue from location targeted revenue, Google will continue its journey into the remote parts of the globe with conservation a key message.
Note: The reporter travelled as a guest of Google
CHRISTMAS ISLAND CRAB FACTS
- About 45 million crabs live on Christmas Island — the only place in the world where they are found.
- Migration begins start of wet season (usually October to December) and is dependent on the lunar phase — and the resultant tide.
- You cannot eat red crabs.
- Park staff have built walls and plastic fencing along roads to funnel crabs to crossings, underpasses and a bridge.
- Many locals carry rakes in their car to clear a safe path on the roads.
- A single female can produce up to 100,000 eggs.
- Crabs cannot swim but they go for a dip to keep themselves cool.
- Eggs hatch as soon as they hit the water and when this happens looks like black ink is being released into the sea.
- The sound of millions of crabs running along the forest floor sounds like the drumming of rain on a tin roof.
- Streets are closed off on the island while migration is happening and to protect the crabs.
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
Activity 1. Information poster
Create an information poster about the crabs.
Your poster should include a diagram and three separate paragraphs of information with appropriate subheadings.
See if you can research any additional facts about red crabs that aren’t included in the article.
Time: allow 45 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Science
Activity 2. A great place to visit
Answer these questions that potential visitors to Christmas Island might have:
- Where is it?
- How can tourists get there?
- What is there to see and do?
- When is the best time to visit?
Use the information in your answers above to design a travel brochure or to write a radio advertisement for Christmas Island.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English
The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s. Have another look through the article, can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?
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