Christmas Island, a dot in the Indian Ocean, is world-famous for its extraordinary crab migration, an annual spectacle when millions of red land crabs march en-masse to the sea to mate.
Renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough names witnessing this natural wonder in his top ten nature experiences of all time.
Now Christmas Island has a new animal migration to boast about. Only these critters aren’t sexed-up crustaceans with beady eyes, rather this species has two arms, two legs, and a neck around which the latest digital camera hangs.
But just like the crabs, these curious creatures are on their own quest, driven by the burning desire to snap that elusive ‘wow’ photo to frame and hang on their lounge room wall.
“Boutique photography tours have fast become a new niche market for our tourism industry,” reveals Linda Cash from the Christmas Island Tourism Association.
“Just under three years ago, award-winning Australian Geographic photographer Chris Bray lead the first photography safari to Christmas Island which proved such a success that there are now five other professional photographers, all leaders in their field, offering tours to the island,” explains Ms Cash.
This boom in photography tours is boosting the island’s economy which has long relied upon phosphate mining. “With the majority of the island a national park, it’s clear that tourism, including experiences such as photography tours have a very big part to play in this island’s future,” says Ms Cash.
“On Christmas Island you can snap that amazing photo you can’t anywhere else, whether it’s a majestic golden bosun bird soaring over pinnacle fields, a giant robber crab crushing a coconut, or what’s widely touted as the world’s most spectacular blowholes,” explains Ms Cash.
While in many other parts of the world, photographers jealously compare the size of their lenses, on this tropical paradise you don’t even need a whizz-bang, state-of-the-art camera with big zooms to capture the wildlife. “You can photograph most of our endemic critters, especially our nesting birds without even needing a zoom,” points out Ms Cash, explaining, “the creatures here have evolved not to be scared of people.”
There’s also no need to touch-up your photos with software programs because the natural colours are as vibrant as you’ll find on any photo editor. “From soft, pastel sunrises to glorious sunsets, Christmas Island is bathed in ever-changing tropical light, a photographer’s delight,” says Ms Cash, adding, “vivid colour is everywhere, from the crabs’ rich reds to the rainforest’s deep greens, to turquoise waters.”
Bray, who leads photography tours to other natural wonders including Antarctica and the Galapagos, believes the boom in photo safaris to Christmas Island is due to the “extraordinary number of photo opportunities within such a close proximity.”
At only about 20km long by 15km wide, Christmas Island is easy and safe to get around. “There’s just so much to see, do and love about the island – not only the crabs and the stunningly accessible and completely fearless birdlife, but there’s caves, rainforests, glowing mushrooms, a great community and mix of cultures, and the snorkelling – 28 degree, crystal-clear water – it’s the best snorkelling I’ve done anywhere in the world, better even than the Great Barrier Reef!” exclaims Bray.
Bray, who’s been an ambassador for camera manufacturer Canon, calls the island “the Galapagos of Australia”, adding “all our photo tour guests are astounded, every time”
“Who knows, you might even make your own scientific discovery while on a photo tour,” reports Bray, who on a recent photo expedition to the island, sent the scientific world into a flap after he rediscovered a crab species that hadn’t been spotted for over 29 years.
“How many places in the world can you go on a tour, and make a discovery like this,” says Bray, adding, “it’s the sort of stuff, dreams are made of.”
Christmas Island – a natural wonder
(although just a tiny speck in the Indian Ocean, 2600km north-west of Perth, we are still part of Australia!)
For more information, photographs or to arrange interviews, please contact Linda Cash, Marketing Manager, Christmas Island Tourism Association 0439 215 001 or[email protected]
Did You Know? Bookings are now being taken for Chris Bray’s May 2017 photo tour. More: chrisbrayphotography.com The growing list of other photographers who are leading photography safaris to Christmas Island include Steve Parish, Kingsley Klau, Scott Portelli, Pamela Jennings, Darren Leal and Lynn Gail.