Crabs Invade Cuba’s Bay of Pigs

Millions of red, yellow and black land crabs migrated from the forest to the beaches of Playa Larga, Cuba.

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 land crabs.

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.

Above, crabs coming from the surrounding forests gather near the sea to spawn on April 21, 2017 in Playa Giron, Cuba.



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Adult crabs return to their forest burrows after releasing clouds of eggs and are joined a couple of months later by the baby crabs which hatched at sea.

Above, a crab from the surrounding forests.

Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

Visitors have spiked in recent years, in tandem with the overall tourism boom since the U.S.-Cuban detente.

Above, a tourist steps near a crab.

Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

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. 

Above, crabs coming from the surrounding forests gather near the sea to spawn.

Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

For locals, the crab invasion is good business.

Above, a giant crab monument is displayed at the entrance of Playa Larga, Cuba.

Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

Similar crab migrations occur in other parts of Cuba at the same time of the year.

Above, crabs coming from the surrounding forests move closer to the sea.

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"It's very surprising and impressive to see so many crabs in one go and to watch them crossing so quickly," said 36-year-old French tourist Emilie Lannegrand, adding it was "a little heartbreaking" to see so many crushed on the road.

Above, a tourist photographs a crab.

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As cars speed by, some swerving to avoid the 10-legged crustaceans, the cracks of carapaces zing through the air.

Above, a man drives a vintage car past crabs crossing a highway.

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"Thirty to 40 can enter without you even realizing it," said Edian Villazon, who runs a food hut opposite the sea, which does not serve up crab meat. Cubans believe this type is toxic. "We have to always keep the door shut."

Above, crabs climb a food hut.

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Ito Molina, 45, said tourists would happily pay $10 for tire repair, a princely sum compared with the average state salary of around $25 per month. "All the cars pass along this road, and they all get punctures," he said. "So we stand there and repair the tires."

Above, vultures eat smashed crabs on a highway.

Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters