Early Monday, hundreds of thousands of red tuna crabs were washed up on Del Monte Beach, in Monterey Bay. These crabs are also known as pleuroncodes planipes or the pelagic red crab.
Residents noticed them easily because their red shells make a sharp contrast to the sand of Del Monte Beach. According to Andrew DeVogelaere, research coordinator director of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network, even if the crab is usually found off the coast of Baja California, it may still appear in other places depending on the weather pattern of El Niño.
While the babies are often washed up on shore because of the currents, adults usually live in the deep sea currents. Rather than something caused by human actions, the red crabs arrival is regarded as a natural oceanic event.
DeVogelaere explains that animals like crabs usually move with the water masses, in this case, the current. But if waters get warm and stagnant during El Niño, then the red crabs are washed up on the beaches. Nevertheless, experts say that people can rest assured because these marine animals are harmless and not edible. Still, they represent an important source of food for whales, seabirds, dolphins and fish.
The best part is that these crabs became the main attraction of the beach as many excited tourists came to see them. Plus, there will be a great feast for the birds. The statistics show that the first major red crabs stranding on the Peninsula occurred in 1959, the second in 1969 and the last two during the 1982-1983 El Niños.
However, other two took place last year. The first one was last summer when the red crabs invaded the beaches of Orange County and San Diego and in October on the Peninsula when they were washed up on Asilomar, Spanish Bay, and Lovers Point beaches.
For some people, such as Dan Albro, a senior guest experience trainer from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it was the first time he had seen red tuna crabs appear on local beaches. According to him, their population can reach an impressive number of billions of specimens.
All in all, the red crabs turned out to be quite a view for everyone.