Hundreds Of Thousands of Red Crabs Blanket SoCal Beaches
Hordes of bright red crabs have washed ashore in biblical proportions across the Orange County coastline, painting normally sandy beaches crimson.
NBC reports that "hundreds of thousands of dead and squirming red crabs" blanketed the sand at Corona Del Mar State Beach in Newport Beach Friday, and that Huntington and Imperial beaches met similar fates earlier in the week.
Capt. Boyd Mickley of the Newport Beach Fire Department-Marine Operations told NBC that the wee crustaceans, technically known as pleuroncodes planipes, are commonly referred to as "red crabs" or "tuna crabs" because of their fiery coloring. They are one-to-three inches long and look like tiny lobsters or crawfish.
Despite the fuss, it seems the phenomenon isn't actually that uncommon, and similar incidents occurred last year in Balboa and Newport. Mickley reports that the little critters are subject to winds, tides and currents, despite being native to Baja California. Warm currents and El Niños years can lead to tuna crab displacement, which is how they end up strewn across O.C. beaches.
According to the L.A. Times, scientists speculate that warmer ocean temperatures could be causing the crabs' ocean-to-O.C.-shore exoduses to occur more frequently.
"This is a natural occurrence. There is no disaster," Mickley told NBC. For what it's worth, we just googled it and none of the four horsemen of the apocalypse appear to be small dead crabs on beaches.
But just because the crabs are probably not a harbinger of End Times doesn't mean you should eat them—authorities warn that they could be littered with toxins.