May 24th, 2016 (Carly Mayberry). Monterey – The bright red tuna crabs are back in the Monterey Bay, having washed up on Del Monte Beach in droves.
Early Monday, residents and visitors started noticing the crabs, also known as the pelagic red crab or Pleuroncodes planipes.
They creatures are hard to miss, their red shells a stark contrast to the sand of Del Monte Beach. There were hundreds of thousands on the beach Monday according to Andrew DeVogelaere, a research coordinator director with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network.
DeVogelaere said the crab is usually found off the coast of Baja California but shows up other places during the El Niño weather pattern. Adults tend to live in the deep sea currents while their babies often wash up to shore, blown in by the currents.
DeVogelaere said the creatures are harmless and aren’t for human consumption. They are an important source of food for fish, dolphins, seabirds and whales.
Most recently, there was a stranding on the Peninsula in October when they washed up just north of Lovers Point and on Spanish Bay and Asilomar beaches. Last summer they had also blanketed beaches in San Diego and Orange County.