Christmas Island: Family trying to enjoy a spring barbecue surrounded by robber ...

A family trying to enjoy a spring camping barbecue on an idyllic Australian island got more than they bargained for when quickly surrounded by dozens of giant robber crabs.

The ferocious looking crustaceans, also known as coconut crabs, measure up to a metre in length and have a strong sense of smell.

As the unwitting family enjoyed an al fresco barbecue while camping on isolated Christmas Island, off Western Australia's far north-west, the crabs swarmed around them looking for food.

The crabs are harmless despite their scary looks,  although (as their name suggests)  they are regularly known to steal items from campsites.

Photographs of the barbecue show more than 20 of the coconut crabs eagerly awaiting a chance to snack on some leftovers

Photographs of the barbecue show more than 20 of the coconut crabs eagerly awaiting a chance to snack on some leftovers

Winter McKendrick, the daughter of one of the other families on the trip, looked unfazed as the enormous crabs surrounded her as she ate her dinner in a fold-up chair

Winter McKendrick, the daughter of one of the other families on the trip, looked unfazed as the enormous crabs surrounded her as she ate her dinner in a fold-up chair

A group camping trip dinner became a terrifying ordeal of trying to keep away from 52 robber crabs

A group camping trip dinner became a terrifying ordeal of trying to keep away from 52 robber crabs

A series of amazing photos of the barbecue show more than 52 of the clawsome creatures eagerly awaiting a chance to snack on some leftovers. 

Winter McKendrick, the daughter of one of the other families on the trip, looked unfazed as the enormous crabs surrounded her as she ate her dinner on her fold-up camping chair. 

One brave crab was pictured scaling the side of the table to get better access to the family's meal.

Amy Luetich and her family have lived on Christmas Island for a few years and were camping with some other families in Grants Well, which is in the jungle part of the island.

'We have camped in that area a few times and we have never seen so many robber grabs,' Mrs Luetich told Daily Mail Australia.

She said when they arrived there were 20 under a tree, which had started to seed.

'But as soon as we started cooking, they swarmed around us. My son counted 52 of them,' the deputy principal said.

One brave crab was seen scaling the side of the table to get better access to the delicious meal on display

One brave crab was seen scaling the side of the table to get better access to the delicious meal on display

One of the crabs was found to have climbed on top of the barbecue the group were using

One of the crabs was found to have climbed on top of the barbecue the group were using

'His job was to pick them up and move them away from where we were eating. He was loving it. 

She said because they had lived on Christmas Island for a while they were used to seeing the robber crabs.  

'Then they started to climb up to the table, and another climbed onto the barbecue,' Mrs Luetich said.

'We kept our tents away from where we had eaten, but one of the families said the whole night they could feel one tapping on the outside of their tent.'

Robber crabs earned their name for their habit of taking foreign objects from camp sites

Robber crabs earned their name for their habit of taking foreign objects from camp sites

Jacob Tiernan-Luetich's job was to keep the giant crabs away from everyone while they ate

Jacob Tiernan-Luetich's job was to keep the giant crabs away from everyone while they ate

WHAT ARE ROBBER CRABS 

Robber crabs are the largest land crustacean in the world and many call Christmas Island home.

They can weigh up to four kilograms and measure a metre wide.

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