Hundreds of dead red crabs wash up on Tijuana beach, Mexico


Red crabs.

A big stretch of Tijuana beach turned bright red today as hundreds of crustaceans washed up on the sand. The creatures are a kind of crab, better known as Langostino.

The scene Tuesday afternoon on Playas de Tijuana was surreal as hundreds of the small creatures dotted the sand, most of them dead. "I thought first of all it was like all that polluted water we have around here, especially in Tijuana, but then another theory they say is that they (were brought here) by the currents," said one woman on the beach.

"We have seen them in our samples in local waters," said Scripps Institution of Oceanography marine scientist Linsey Sala. Sala said seeing this many red crabs on the beach isn't all that unusual. "Been seeing them. We got reports as early as July 2014. This year my first report of people seeing them was on January first," she said.

But these little crustaceans aren't the only ones to have washed up on the beaches of Baja over the last several weeks. First there was a whale, then a seal and then dozens of blue jellyfish. Sala said she's not sure if all the incidents are related. "The seals and sea lions are local to these waters as are the blue and gray whales. The red crabs actually serve as a food source," she said.

And there's something else when it comes to the red crabs. The waters of the western Pacific have been warming up and Sala said that might have something to do with all of this. "That's a possibility. These red crabs are definitely an indicator of warm water presence."

Back at the beach, and as word spread of the red crabs, people began showing up with buckets. Some gathered up the ones that were still alive and did their best to return them to the sea. Others just gathered them up in buckets with perhaps a pot of boiling water as their destination. Linsey Sala said that's probably not a great idea. She said, best to let the sea birds clear the beach by having a meal of their own.