California Beaches Invaded by Ten-Legged Crabs


This time it’s the crabs. These marine creatures are starting to find the ocean waters too hot for their comfort. Southern California beaches were swarming with these ten-legged creatures which are protected with a hard carapace.

They were once ashore in Newport and Laguna beaches but on Sunday in Huntington Beach they really over did it, noted Marine Safety Lt. Michael Beuerlein. Never did he see anything like it in his 34 years of service with the city.

“They flopped up on the shore and they were alive, and then they weren’t,” he told the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot.

The sea creatures, also called pelagic red crabs, are about 1 to three inches long and are not considered harmful to humans.

“Once they are on the sand their life cycle has typically come to an end,” Marine Protection Officer Jeremy Frimond said. “However, some may still move slightly as their death is not instant once beached.”

The animals travel by finding the ocean currents which will carry them to their destinations and they also do this sometimes inshore. That was what happened last Sunday when thousands of them swarmed miles of beaches starting from Orange to San Diego.

Beachgoers were having fun picking some of the crabs, then cooked them at home. Some found the crabs a little bit salty to their taste, Newport lifeguard battalion Chief Brent Jacobsen said.


“I heard they were pretty salty,” Jacobsen said.

Daniel Pondella II, director of the Southern California Marine Institute, told the Pilot in January that the crab phenomenon “could just be a sign of the warm water we’re currently experiencing.”

Frimond said, “The beached crabs are part of nature.”

“This might look like a bad day for the red crabs, but it’s a good day for shorebirds who rely on them to survive,” Frimond said. “It’s the ecosystem at work.”





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