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one crab steps over another

And… we’ve got crabs.

Once a year in Cuba, mountain crabs come down to mate and deposit their eggs in the sea. It’s an exciting time not just for the crabs getting their groove on, but for fish who swarm the coast to eat the eggs – and fishermen who go after the fish!

I’ve heard about this a lot from the fishermen I’m friendly with. But I never realized what it means for people in the crabs’ path! They come down in swarms, occupying wide areas of land. Some roads even close to traffic so that the crabs can pass. I found this out the hard way last month, when I led a group right through one of their mating routes.

crab in the grass

The whole area between the road and the shore was full of crabs.

Luckily for us – but not for the crabs – we didn’t encounter any roadblocks. But you drive through their mating territory at your own risk. Our driver told horror stories of running over crabs whose outstretched claws punctured his tires. He did his best to avoid them, but there are so many running around, it isn’t something you can entirely control. Luckily for us, the crabs we ran over wedged a few pincers in our tires, but not deep enough to cause any flats.

yellow and red crab on pavement

This cutie was running across the road. You can tell it feels threatened because it has its claws outstretched and angled up at us.

If you’d like to plan your Cuba travel around crab season – whether to see the crabs for yourself or avoid them entirely – here’s a tip: On the southern coast of Cuba, near the Bay of Pigs, they come down to the coast in early May.

Some of our drive along the coast looked like this. We joked that the ones running to get out of the way hadn’t mated yet, while the slow-moving ones were already sated and happy:

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