The warm water off the coast of California have driven millions of tiny, bright red tuna crabs ashore on Southern California beaches recently.
Although they look like crawfish or mini lobsters, the pelagic red crabs are typically found along the west coast of Baja California and the Gulf of California.
“Typically such strandings of these species in large numbers are due to warm water intrusions,” said Linsey Sala, a museum scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego..
The species, proper name Pleuroncodes planipes, is unique in that it can live its entire life cycle, from larva to adulthood, in the water column from surface to seafloor, she said. This makes it vulnerable to being carried along by winds, tides, and currents.