Thousands of tiny crabs wash up on Orange County beaches, turning the coast bright red

Video: The crustaceans have been lured north along the coast due to warmer waters

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The Independent US

Thousands of tiny crabs have appeared along beaches in Orange County, California, over the past few days, making vast swathes of usually yellow sand turn bright red.

The crustaceans had previously been washing up along the coast in San Diego county. They first started appearing in large bunches in January and February on Balboa Island.

The abundance of the creatures has interested marine scientists in the area, with the belief being that the warm water has attracted the crabs further north, with their usual habitat being Baja California.

“They are all still alive,” Donna Kalez told the Orange County Register. “Once they get this close to shore, they can’t go anywhere, so they just wash in. They aren’t strong enough to swim out.”

Once they are washed onto the shore, the majority of the crabs die.

The appearance of the crabs is latest odd occurrence along the Californian coast this year: jellyfish-like creatures known as “by-the-wind sailors” have been seen, as well yellowtail and bluefin tuna showing up in the area earlier than usual.

O.C. Lifeguards Chief Jason Young told the Orange County Register that his staff were telling beachgoers to not touch or take the crabs.

There were also no reports of the crabs pinching any swimmers in the area.

“They have pinchers, but they mostly swim backward,” Young said. “They sort of bump you along the way.”