Perpetual Planet

The Story Behind This Eerie Photo of a Rare Species

Photographer Thomas P. Peschak visits the Aldabra Atoll, which is home to a thriving population of coconut crabs. Wednesday, 14 March

By Becky Harlan

When photographer Thomas P. Peschak was working on a story about the amazingly biodiverse Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, he went to special lengths to take the perfectly creepy photo of a coconut crab.

Why? The Seychelles’ Aldabra Atoll is one of the only places in the western Indian Ocean that still has a healthy population of the crabs, which are the largest arthropods in the world. They’re widely hunted because, Peschak says, “They’re large, they’re predictable, they’re slow, and they taste phenomenal.” So if the coconut crab community is thriving, it probably means there aren’t many humans around.

Peschak calls these creatures “the true beasts of the crustacean world,” and he wanted to emphasise their alien-like shadow. How did he come up with and execute this Hitchcockian scene? Listen in below.

Plus, see footage of the breathtaking Aldabra Atoll, which you might have a hard time visiting in person. (Because of it’s biological diversity and 'exceptional natural beauty' it’s a strict nature reserve, and you have to get special permission to visit.)

Experience more of the Seychelles in the March 2016 National Geographic magazine story “In the Seychelles, Taking Aim at Nature’s Bullies.”

See how Peschak packs his gear when he travels to Aldabra in “All You Need to Pack for a Remote Atoll Is …”