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Video: Red Crabs Spotted Near The Channel Islands Could Be Sign Of El Niño

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Pelagic Red CrabsResearcher Jeff Harris from the National Marine Mammal Laboratory shot this video of pelagic red crabs (Pleuroncodes planipes) off San Miguel Island. These crabs are usually found in Mexico. However, during warmer water periods like El Nino they venture up to the Channel Islands. Learn more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleuroncodes_planipes

Posted by Channel Islands National Park on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A cast of red crabs normally seen in the waters of Mexico have been spotted all the way up near the Channel Islands—and it may just have to do with the possible 'Godzilla' El Niño coming our way this winter.

Researcher Jeff Harris from the National Marine Mammal Laboratory shot this captivating video of the many pelagic red crabs (AKA pleuroncodes planipes or tuna crabs) off the San Miguel Island, one of the five islands in the national park off the coast of Ventura. He told NBC Los Angeles that although he shot this footage two weeks ago, the crabs have been seen there all summer.

It's not completely unusual to see the four-inch crabs, which look similar to small lobsters, swim up north from the waters of Baja California, but according to Channel Islands National Park, it may have to do with El Niño. "However, during warmer water periods like El Niño they venture up to the Channel Islands," the reps of the national park wrote on their Facebook page, where they posted Harris' video.

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The red crabs don't pinch too much, and aren't very strong swimmers, and they mostly swim backwards.

In January, thousands of the red crabs were spotted in Newport Beach. The L.A. Times reported that a "thick blanket" of the crabs showed up in SoCal's waters in the '90s, and again years later in the Channel Islands. The last El Niño took place in 1997. In June, there was a large number of red crabs that washed ashore on Orange County and San Diego beaches.