The here today and gone tomorrow Tuna Crabs
Tuna Crabs at La Jolla Cove
The Tuna or Red Pelagic crabs (Pleuroncodes planipes) will often make an appearance during a El niño in the tens of thousands inside La Jolla cove Ecological Reserve. Sometimes blanketing the sand of the Cove with their lifeless or dying bodies.
This is common with an El niño event when warm currents and winds drive them from off Baja California to as far north as Central California. They range from Chile to Baja Sur in huge numbers. However, they are really not crabs but Squat lobsters.
They form an important part of the Pacific ecosystem providing a food source for a diverse array of sea life. They are a Blue Whale, and Baleen Whales, Porpoise, large fish, and sea bird staple. Tuna love them hence the nick name “Tuna Crabs.”
These pelagic crabs are not much bigger than river crayfish or baby lobsters, (about the size of a man’s thumb) looking very much like them. Every few years an El niño current results and they are driven from the south and can reach far north to central California and wind and surf deposit them fatefully on the shores of southern California. They are doomed on California shores as the water is too cold for them to survive very long and they either get eaten by our local fish or wash ashore in death throws for the shore birds delight
There is really nothing man can do to help them get back to warmer waters.
If you want to scuba dive or snorkel with Tuna crabs you have to get offshore Baja Sur or try scuba diving or snorkeling with us in the La Jolla Cove Ecological Reserve during an El niño event.
A huge event occurred in June of 2015.
Author: Rod Watkins