Pelagic Red Crabs

In early October, thousands of pelagic red crabs washed ashore in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. These crabs usually live offshore of Baja California, but warm waters, likely linked to El Niño, have transported them north. The last time these crabs washed ashore in the sanctuary was 1982-83, also an El Niño year. Watch our video to learn more! ‪#‎EarthIsBlue


We've had a few interesting days here in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. There's been a stranding of thousands upon thousands of pelagic red crabs. They're also known as tuna crabs. And normally they live off of Mexico. We're much further north here in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and we have seen this event happen historically.

Our records show that it's happened in 1859, in 1959, in 1969, and most recently, in 1983. And we'll see these events; they're correlated with warm water activities such as an El Niño.

Some happenings in nature are due to natural fluctuations, some of them are human caused, this one is probably a natural event, but it might be an indication of what we'd see in the future if there was global climate change that might change the waters here off Central California. Fortunately, in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and in the Florida Keys Sanctuary, we have many partners that help us develop technology and track what's happening out in the ocean with the wildlife and the ocean conditions.

Our most recent project is called MBON. It's the Marine Biodiversity Observatory Network. And, by having our finger on the pulse of what's happening in our sanctuaries using the latest technology, we'll be able to better manage these natural resources for many generations to come.