Several Southern California beaches have become much more colorful lately as millions of tiny red crabs have washed ashore. The 1- to 3-inch-long crabs have washed up for several years along the Orange County coastline.
In Newport Beach, lifeguards estimate that hundreds of thousands of the tiny crustaceans washed up on Friday, from the Newport Beach pier south to the Balboa Pier. Last Wednesday, about 1,000 others washed up in Huntington Beach. In Laguna Beach, there were “quite a few,” reported Marine Safety Lt. Kai Bond. “I’ve heard reports Shaw’s Cove is covered,” he added.
The Pleuroncodes planipes (also known as pelagic red crabs or tuna crabs) look like tiny lobsters or crawfish, and measure 1 to 3 inches long. They are usually found off Baja, but because of currents pushing in from the south, the crabs have washed up in recent years along the Orange County coastline.
Surfer Scott Carlisimo hasn’t seen anything like it in his 12 years of surfing the area.
“It’s like walking on a red carpet in some areas. You have to step carefully – they’re everywhere.”
Because Laguna Beach is within the Marine Life Protected Act, the crabs can’t be taken and nature will have to take its course. If the tide doesn’t take them away before they die, it could make for a very smelly weekend at the beach. When they die, they leave behind a strong stench.