Bhubaneswar, Sep 11:
In an effort to save the dwindling Red Ghost crab species, the state forest and environment department has prepared an action plan to include these rare species in the Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
These crabs are found in large numbers along the 3-km stretch between Talsari and Udaypur in Baleswar district bordering Digha in West Bengal and along the Christmas Island of Australia.
The adult Ghost crabs dig deep burrows, comprising a long shaft with a chamber at the end, occasionally with a second entrance shaft. They remain in the burrow during the hottest part of the day and throughout the coldest part of the winter to retain their body humidity.
They emerge from the burrow mostly at night to feed on mole crabs and coquina. They also eat a wide range of items, including carrion, debris and turtle hatchlings.
Their food and feeding habits are both of predators and scavengers, mostly filter-feeding. They feed mostly on live preys, snails, clams, turtle hatchlings, lizards and small crab insects.
With the onset of rainy season, they move towards the seashore for breeding. The female crabs produce the eggs and develop them inside the burrows in about two weeks before releasing them into the sea when high tide turns between the last quarter and new moon.
Interestingly, if the weather delays the migration, the crabs put off spawning until the next lunar month.
The forest department has set up a temporary check-post at Udaypur to regulate the entry of vehicles into the beach which is manned by the forest guards engaged on a daily wage basis throughout the year.
The department has also erected signboards at strategic points for public awareness to prevent any threat to the wildlife and their habitat.