South California experimented an interesting situation in the beaches at the Orange County. This morning, the entire shore was completely covered in thousands of tiny red crabs, that almost look like red shrimps, scientifically known as Pleuroncodes planipes.
These animals are from 1 to 3 inches long and this is not the first time swimmers, surfers, and lifeguards in the state of California have encountered some in the coast. For several years now, these tiny crabs are being found in Baja California, but the climatic circumstances and currents have changed enough to push them north.
A sporadic but popular phenomena
Boat captains and their teams noted the massive amount of these tiny crabs in the waters for a few weeks, but they never imagined they would end up covering the entire shore. The animals actually now are creating a carpeting effect and is quite a show for visitors. Local papers reported that a lot of people were coming to the beach just to take pictures of the shore.
This effect is due to the climate change, mostly, but other factors may have some influence. What specialists in marine biology have said is that these type of animals usually migrate from water to water when their initial home is getting too warm. Since “El Niño” had relevant effect in the oceanic climate structure, it seems that southern waters in California are now too warm for the crabs, which pushes them north.
Actually, as a part of the climate changes in the world, researchers have found patches of warm water in areas of the deep ocean that are usually really cold, like “The Blob”, a patch formed in the Gulf of Alaska that is affecting the temperature in those waters.
Are they alive?
The warm water intrusion is pushing this large amount of crabs but they are still alive, according to Donna Kalez from Dana Wharf Sportfishing. In her analysis of the phenomena, she stated that once the animals get close to shore they don’t have other ways out than just wash on the shore, since they are not strong enough to swim back to the Surfline, considering the strength of the waves and tides.
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California stated as well that these animals are going to keep covering the coastline further north if the water keeps getting this warm. The water masses and their features, such as temperature, movement, density and any other characteristics, have a profound influence on the trajectory of sea life in general and what is being seen in the coastline in California is the proof of it.
Source: The Washington Post