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Whoa, So Many Red Crabs Are Washing Ashore (Photos)

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Crabs have been washing ashore on the beaches from San Diego to Orange County, blanketing the sand in red.

Some were some spotted earlier in January around Orange County and then mass wash-ups started a few weeks ago in San Diego before heading north this weekend to Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and even Huntington Beach, according to the Orange County Register.

The crabs are about four inches long, and they look like little lobsters. They're called Pleuroncodes planipes, also known as pelagic red crabs or tuna crabs. If you're heading into the water to surf or swim, you may run into some but you don't have much to worry about. They don't pinch much, and they mostly swim backwards. They're not very strong swimmers so by the time they get to shore, they're basically stuck. Scientists are asking that if you run into them, you leave them alone.

They typically live in Baja California, but warm waters brought them north. KTLA says they typically show up in El Nino years—and many people who have seen them remember a big wash-up from the El Nino of 1997.

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"They often hang around with tuna, and tuna love to eat them," Charina Layman, education manager of La Jolla’s Birch Aquarium, told KFMB.