Thousands of Crabs Descend on So Cal Beaches

A mass gathering of crustaceans along the coasts of San Diego and Orange County has left some Southern California beachgoers literally seeing red.

Thousands of red tuna crabs washed along shores from Huntington Beach to San Clemente over the weekend, blanketing the sands in a magnificent orange-red hue. Experts say the peculiar phenomenon was likely the result of warmer waters swirling in the Pacific Ocean. Reactions to the spectacle, meanwhile, ranged from fascination to abject horror.

Red tuna crabs are known to wash up from time to time. But Sunday’s event was notable in terms of both quantity and range. Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lt. Michael Beuerlein said he hadn't seen anything like it during his 34 years with the city. That’s probably because the crabs normally live off of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula and don’t typically appear that far north, especially in such great numbers.

The deluge could also be a sign of things to come. Experts believe the small creatures may have been pushed ashore by an impending El Nino. They aren’t the only odd visitors to capture local attention either. In recent weeks, jellyfish like creatures called “Velella,” as well as large purple sea slugs known as “sea hares,” have been spotted in sizable numbers along the Southern California coast.

Read more about So Cal’s tuna crab invasion here.