Pelagic Red Crabs in Monterey Bay - How Did They Get There?

Pelagic Red Crabs in Monterey Bay – How Did They Get There?

Massive pelagic red crabs are stranded in Monterey Bay, California! But why?

monterey bay pelagic red crabsImage credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Whoa! What are these massive red critters doing at the beach? Since the last occurrence in 1982–1983, the pelagic red crabs or tuna crabs (Pleuroncodes planipes) once again blanketed the shores of Monterey Bay, California last Thursday morning, October 8, 2015.

Pelagic red crabs in Pacific Grove, Monterey Bay documented by Patrick Anders Webster

What could possibly be the reason behind this bizarre sea phenomenon? This mass-stranding event is closely attributed to El Niño, an unusual warm-water event in the equatorial Pacific. The warm waters oscillate back and forth across the Pacific, bringing some marines species, including pelagic red crabs, to shores where they are not normally found.

Unlike the red crabs on Christmas Island which naturally migrate by themselves, these poor creatures in Monterey Bay are stranded and could no longer go back to their natural habitat, so they end up dying or being eaten by seabirds and other sea creatures that feed on them. So sad, right? But the implications of this strange occurrence could be far more threatening than what any of us can imagine. Global warming? Natural disasters? Who knows?!

36.614298, -121.911308,Pacific Grove, Monterey Bay, California, USA

If you happen to be in California, don’t miss the chance to see this rare sea phenomenon.

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