Guess who’s back? Back again?

Guess who’s back? Back again?



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!

They’re baaaaaaack!

What does it mean?

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back—pelagic red crab beach bisques that is! The lobster krill/tuna crabs/bloop lords have once again flowed into Monterey Bay and are washing up on local beaches.

These southern squat lobsters typically make their appearance around here during El Niño conditions—which @noaasanctuaries has at ~70% chance for this winter.

So ¡Bienvenidos otra vez Pleuroncodes planipes! It certainly seems like, at least locally, the ocean is betting on a winter visit from El Niño!

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