Hammerhead sharks. Poisonous sea snakes. Loggerhead turtles. Tropical tuna. Marlin. And now hordes of bright red crabs. Every West Coast surfer’s favorite climate oscillation — yes, El Nino — is responsible for bringing all of them to California waters.
This month, swarms of palm-sized tuna crabs have been washing up on shores from Imperial Beach to Huntington Beach and other SoCal spots. They’re cute, harmless, not fit for eating (too small) but start to stink when they begin rotting, which is already happening.
Pleuroncodes planipes usually inhabit shallow, open ocean waters off the coast of Baja California where they provide frequent snacking for tuna fish (hence the name), sharks, whales and turtles. They may be crowding your local lineup but are not naturally predisposed to drop-ins. Phew!
Currents that swing north from Baja during times of warmer water, like, duh, El Nino, can sweep zillions of the crabs into SoCal waters. It happened last spring and summer, too. Here’s the most Shakespearean thing about this: scientists think they wash up in massive numbers because they’re gathered in huge mats to mate when the current grabs them.
So maybe apologize for interrupting their mass orgy when you crunch over them on your way on your way to paddle out.