Support for LAist comes from
Made of L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Hundreds Of Thousands of Red Crabs Blanket SoCal Beaches

Support your source for local news!
The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.
Thousands of red crabs wash up on Orange County Beaches. Live at 5:15pm @nbcla

— Angie Crouch (@AngieNBCLA) May 13, 2016

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.

Support for LAist comes from

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.

Most Read