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Tiny Tuna Crabs Invade Calif. Beaches

'Mini-lobsters' turn shorelines red
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 15, 2015 3:51 AM CDT
Tiny Tuna Crabs Invade Calif. Beaches
Donna Kalez, manager of Dana Wharf Sportfishing, poses for a photo with thousands of tiny tuna crabs that washed ashore near her place of business at Strand Beach in Dana Point, Calif.   (Lyn Michelle Evins via AP)

Tiny tuna crabs have been washing up by the thousands on beaches in California's Orange County. The Orange County Register reports that the crustaceans, which look like tiny lobsters or crawfish, created a bright-red rim along the shoreline of Dana Point, San Clemente, Newport Beach, and Huntington Beach yesterday. Experts say the 1- to 3-inch-long crustaceans, which normally live off Mexico's Baja Peninsula, are going farther north because of the warm water that has lingered off Southern California for the past year.

In recent weeks, blue jellyfish-like creatures known as "by-the-wind sailors" have also been spotted, and tropical fish such as yellowtail and bluefin tuna are showing up earlier than normal this year. Tuna crabs get their name from the fact that they're a favorite meal for tuna and other large fish. Sea birds, sea otters, and whales also dine on the creatures, but experts at Scripps Institution of Oceanography say people should avoid eating them because the phytoplankton they consume can contain toxins, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. (Large slugs known as sea hares have also arrived in unusual numbers this year.)

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