Tuna crabs are back—tell a friend! Once again, swarms of pelagic red crabs—aka tuna crabs, Pleuroncodes planipes—beached themselves In Monterey yesterday.
First seen in October of last year, there have been a handful of these mass strandings of juvenile crabs—a normal part of the lifecycle of this species—during our 2015-2016 El Niño.
Pushed northward by currents and pleasant climes, tuna crabs are one of the most prominent indicators of these changed seas at the hands of El Niño. They were last seen in Monterey during the 1982-1983 ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation).
Hot on the tails of these tasty treats are hordes of blue whales—twenty individuals were spotted recently near Moss Landing! We even saw a blue whale lunge feeding on the surface from the back deck of the Aquarium, perhaps drawn in by fresh and delicious Mexican food.
As the ocean continues to warm due to climate change, these events may become more commonplace in our area, as southern seas slowly slink north.
The return of the tuna crabs is a reminder that slight changes in temperature can drastically affect the community of animals living in the ocean—and bring a trip to Mexico to our backyard.
You can learn more about tuna crabs in our blog posts:
El Niño is feeling kinda crabby!
What does it mean?
Back on our bull like a cowboy—pelagic red crabs are back again!!
This year, NOAA has predicted an approximately 80% chance for El Niño conditions through the winter in the Northern Hemisphere—and if this stranding is any indication, there’s a good chance an ENSO tour bus has dropped off its first batch of southern visitors to Monterey Bay!