Last week, thousands of tuna crabs were washed ashore Orange County beaches, to the amazement of the locals and tourists who saw them.
The shoreline was turned an orange-red hue because of the thousands of tiny crustaceans that somehow landed on the beach and could not return to the ocean.
The tuna crabs are 1 to 3 inch crustaceans that resemble miniature crawfish.
Some of the towns that were invaded by the bright-orange creatures include Salt Creek, San Clemente, Dana Point, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.
No one knows the exact reason why the tiny lobsters have descended in this area.
However, marine biologists believe that the tuna crabs, which usually inhabit the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, are forced to come further north because in southern California the waters are warmer.
Donna Kalex, manager at Dana Wharf Sportfishing, said she saw the tuna crabs as she was walking on the beach in Dana Point. She said she was taken by surprise by the thousands of tuna crabs that were washed ashore and gave the shoreline a bright-orange hue.
According to Kalex, the tuna crabs are all alive and are in the surfline swimming up.
She explained that once the tiny crustaceans get too close to the shore, they can’t go back and they wash in.
They are not strong enough to swim back so they just remain stranded on the beaches.
Jason Young, chief of lifeguards in Orange County, said that locals and tourists who came to see the tuna crabs were asked not to touch them or take them from the beach, especially from protected areas like Laguna Beach and Dana Point.
While many of the tuna crabs will die, biologists say that most of them will be swept back in the water where they will try and swim backwards towards the ocean.
Researcher believe that the tuna crabs, which are a species of squat lobsters and are also known as Pleuroncodes planipes, were brought to Orange County from the water of Baja California by an El Nino driven influx of warmer water.
The last big El Nino happened in 1997.
Image Source: grindtv