christmas island Tourism Association

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Meet the experts

  • David James

    David James

    David James is a birder and ecologist with 35 years experience. Dave first visited Christmas Island in 2001 to participate in a wide-ranging seabird monitoring program. In 2003 he returned to undertake a population survey of the Christmas Island Frigatebird. In late 2003 he lead the Christmas island Biodiversity Monitoring Program for Parks Australia on Christmas Island. Dave began implementing National Recovery Plans for some of the Island's most threatended species, including Abbott's Booby, CI Fragatebird, CI Goshawk and CI Hawk Owl. Dave was previously the editor of Australiasian Seabird Bulletin, and published works include authoriship of research reports, scientific papers, and 90 chapters in the award winning reference "The Handbook of Australia, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB). Dave is co-author of the recent booklet "Christmas Island Birds: A Review" published as a supplement to Australian Field Ornithology.
  • Mark Holdsworth

    Mark Holdsworth

    Mark Holdsworth was employed within the Tasmanian State government conservation agency for over 30 years. A core component of Mark’s career is the Orange-bellied Parrot recovery program where he is recognised as the global expert on the species’ breeding ecology. He is a specialist in wildlife monitoring and has provided expertise to seabird projects in the Coral Sea, Auckland Islands (NZ) and Christmas Island. Mark also has a passion for birds of prey, and through his involvement with the Australasian Raptor Association, continues the long-term monitoring of the endangered Christmas Island Goshawk. Mark’s work and enthusiasm across a broad range of conservation areas, including his work on Christmas Island, was recognised in 2014 through being selected as one of four Tasmanian finalists for the Australian of the Year.
  • Dr Sue Robinson

    Dr Sue Robinson

    Dr Sue Robinson has worked as a wildlife biologist for the Tasmanian State government conservation agency for over 15 years and currently works on invasive species projects. She studied the breeding biology of Gentoo Penguins and sub-Antarctic Fur-seals, and has extensive experience in wildlife ecology and vertebrate pest programs, including assistance with cat eradication on Christmas Island. Sue has worked on a variety of seabird research projects including population monitoring of Short-tailed Shearwaters, fairy prions and shy albatross around Tasmania, frigatebirds and boobies on the Herald Islands (Coral Sea) and many of the seabird species on Macquarie Island. Sue has a passion for Christmas Island’s wildlife – especially the island’s diverse and unique crabs.
  • Liz Znidersic

    Liz Znidersic

    Liz Znidersic works as an ornithologist and for Parks and Wildlife Tasmania as an environmental educator, while in the midst of doing her PhD with Charles Sturt University ILWS. Her area of expertise is focused on detection and monitoring methods for secretive birds, focusing on the family Rallidae (rails and crakes). She is a member of the advisory team for Endangered Cocos Buff-banded Rail that is restricted to a few islands in the Cocos Islands atoll, Christmas Island’s closest neighbour. Liz has been involved in seabird, shorebird and wetland bird monitoring projects, and pest management projects around the globe including Tasmania, Faroe Islands and South Carolina. Liz will be on the lookout for vagrant species and will share her enthusiasm and insights into the unique natural values on Christmas Island.
  • Rosie Willacy

    Rosie Willacy

    Rosie Willacy is a PhD student at the University of Queensland. She is part of the X-ED lab at UQ concerned with solving complex environmental decisions, the National Environmental Science Program’s Threatened Species Hub and is working in collaboration with Parks Australia. Her project Cat control and the ecological consequences for Christmas Island indicator species commenced early in 2017. The focus of the research is to determine whether cat control on Christmas Island could result in increases to rat densities, and whether this has the potential to result in negative outcomes for key indicator species. Rosie will be working specifically with the Christmas Island Emerald Dove and Thrush, the Red-tailed Tropicbird and Brown Booby.
  • Christmas Island National Park

    Christmas Island National Park

    Christmas Island National Park - Cat management is one of several collaborative programs conducted by Parks Australia with other partners on Christmas Island to conserve the islands unique biodiversity, which is the major attraction for nature-based tourists. Other programs in yellow crazy ant control, reptile captive breeding and forest rehabilitation. Here we show Dion Maple (Christmas Island National Park Natural Resource Manager) and Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner, Gregory Andrews, discussing the initiation of the cat eradication program announced in 2014.

    Christmas Islander Rochelle Lessing shares her Red Crab Migration experience

    rochelle and baby red crabs

    This Christmas, Christmas Island has experienced one of the largest red crab migration events that the locals have ever seen. A long rainy wet season set the crabs off to an early start, spawning in November, and over the past several weeks, the baby crabs have been returning in quantities never before seen.

    So… what’s it like to live with all this going on all around you? We asked local teenager Rochelle Lessing, who has lived on the island for three years. Rochelle is 16 years old, turning 17, just like the year itself - and was born on the east coast of South Africa...


    I lived in a small town called Richards Bay. The weather was very similar in temperature and humidity to Christmas Island so the climate wasn’t a massive change for us when we moved. But I was never an outdoors person until we moved here. The walking tracks, the beautiful beaches, snorkelling, fishing, diving the lot - so many opportunities to get out and do things! Moving to Christmas Island in 2013 proved to be one of the most amazing adventures my parents decided to take me and my two younger siblings on. 

    Why would I say that? Well growing up in South Africa; robber crabs, blue crabs, red crabs, Booby birds and Bosuns of varied color were very new to us all. We didn’t even know there was something as weird and wonderful as the robber crab! 

    But out of all the critters and creatures we have encountered, it is the Red Crabs of Christmas Island that are the oddest of the bunch and that most certainly added to the excitement of living here.

    Rochelle and siblings

    Three years down the line and all these odd but wonderful creatures have become a major part of our daily lives. Especially when the migration starts.

    The lead up to the red crab migration is exciting for new comers and locals alike - at first, not much change brought about in our daily lives…but that soon changes. At first, no roads are closed which means more venturing out to other parts of the island, no playing ‘drive around the crabs’ on the main roads, no odd scratching noises against your front or back door and no trying to sweep as much of them out of the driveway in order for dad to get to work. But of course all that changes - when there is enough rain for the crabs to get moving.

    The spawning is truly an amazing phenomenon. The females releasing their eggs into the ocean had us all in giggles and awe. The very early morning for us didn’t matter, just as long as we could see these wonderful creatures ‘dancing’ to release their eggs.

    Baby Red crabs in hand

    But it is truly the return of the translucent googly-eyed babies that gets everyone on the island very excited. The anticipation after the spawning of these tiny little creatures becomes higher and higher as the weeks go by. The rough seas of this year had us all wondering when our babies might return and how many of them would be returning. Hence we were expecting only a smaller than average return due to the daunting and dangerous conditions of the sea. 

    Boy, oh, boy were we wrong.

    The morning of Wednesday the 14th December 2016 brought some excitement as the semitransparent babies started to emerge. Locals, photographers (professional and amateur) and tourists were out early in the morning capturing them and letting - not only the Island- but also the world know that our babies had finally started their return. These were exciting times for both tourists and locals as we finally got to welcome the new generation of babies to the island. 

    Baby red crabs and feet

    Some locals were checking the shoreline daily at the crack of dawn and I have to admit - so were we. It was such a phenomenal experience and seeing how much my younger siblings enjoyed playing with the baby crabs brought immense joy to us all. 

    The rangers had closed the road at the post office not allowing anyone to enter the Kampong via car- the only exception being the locals who lived there. Even they weren’t keen on the idea of driving on the road as the tiny babies crossed.  

    In order to witness the baby crab masses, we had to pull over, and partake in a morning stroll. But from the start we could see the abundance of the crabs that covered the corridors and patches of the beachfront like a red blanket. 

    Something no one expected this year… 28 days later and the crabs are still making their return from the ocean! What a sight it has been!

     
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