The Orange County Beaches were given a bit of an usual color this past Friday (June 12, 2015) as thousands of tiny red crabs washed up en mass on the beach, both scaring and delighting people who were there to enjoy a weekend in the water.
There was no panic, however, as this is not an uncommon sight for locals. Lt. James Gartland gave a statement explaining that “They are just washing up. It’s kind of a normal activity. We see it every once in a while. They tend to swarm; they follow currents and warm water”.
The lifeguard lieutenant went on to inform that the tiny red crabs, commonly referred to as tuna crabs, were most likely there due to the warmer El Nino waters pushing them further north. The creatures are typically found south of San Diego.
The water in the region had been kept at about 64 degrees all though winter by El Nino. It was a welcomed change as temperatures usually drop down somewhere around the mid 50s during that time of the year. The waters are expected to warm up even further as summer progresses, with the July through September tyoically being know for being responsible for the warmest temperatures.
Even though this is something people living in the area are often exposed to, it never fails to bring a smile on their faces, and it never stops them from admiring the view and taking several photos with themselves in the middle of the “crab invasion”. It’s never a boring day at the beach when red crabs crawl out of the water to spend the day with people. marine scientists and beachgoers alike enjoy it.
Donna Kalez, who went out for a walk on the beach Sunday morning, gave a statement expressing how happy she was and how cool it was to see these crabs still alive. She explains that they go in the surfline and start swimming up. Once they get to be this close to the shore they aren’t able to go anywhere, they’re not strong enough, so they just wash in and gather there.
The aquatic crustaceans first showed up on the shores of San Diego County, but were later spotted in Strands Beach, Salt Creek, San Clemente, south Laguna, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach as well.
Experts estimated that there are roughly 10 red crabs per square foot, and from the outside, they look like a blanket that’s covering the area around the water line. Each tuna crab is approximately one to three (1 to 3) inches long, and miraculously, no one reported being pinching by the tiny red creatures.
Rocky Neidhardt, chef at The Shack on San Clemente Pier, revealed that they move more like a squid when they’re in the water, but they move like crabs once they get out on the beach.
Jason Young, O.C. Lifeguards Chief, instructed his staff to tell beachgoers not to take the tiny red crabs from the marine protected areas, but they are happy to educate anyone interested on the creature.
There was a similar even in winter, during the months of January and February. Several tuna crabs washed up on Balboa Island, unfortunately most of those were dead. But people still showed great care for those that were still alive. Many picked up still living specimens and threw them back in the water.
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