Southern California beaches are seeing red as thousands of tuna crabs were washed ashore at Imperial Beach on Wednesday morning. It was the second year in a row when the thousands of little crabs showed up in large numbers, most of them dead.
The rare event was discovered first by the Imperial Beach lifeguards during the low tide. According to Lifeguard Captain Robert Stabenow, the warm waters pushed these little guys up. They die when they hit San Diego's cold waters.
"Just like last year, in June we had a washing of tuna crabs and they think it's correlated with El Nino," said Stabenow.
Dead tuna crabs were also found Wednesday morning in Huntington Beach.
Tuna crabs are also called pelagic red crabs or simply red crab. Their sizes vary between 1 to 3 inches in length and they look like crawfish.
They earned the moniker "tuna crabs" because the saltwater finfish loves to eat them.
According to Anthony Martinez, Orange County's Environmental Health Department program manager, handling dead tuna crabs are not linked to any human health concerns. Alive tuna crabs are a different story as they pinch a bit.
"I got pinched by one. It was on my foot. We were walking, and my little Yorkie ran past it and cried. I think he got pinched by one first," shared Katie Glover, a visitor from Los Angeles.
Most of the tuna crabs that were found on the shores were dead, however, some made it alive. Residents and beach goers were advised not to eat the crabs as they may be littered with toxins.
These little guys don't have much meat either, which make them insufficient for a scrumptious seafood meal unless you're a tuna fish, a blue whale or a bird.
While they don't pose much danger, thousands of dead tuna crabs on the beach shores can be quite shocking for people who are looking forward to a relaxing day at the beach.
For some though, they can be quite cute that many people often take a photo. After all, thousands of tuna crabs don't just wash ashore on a regular basis.