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A new oceanic mystery that once baffled citizens near Pacific Grove, California, had been recently answered by marine science experts. The phenomenon includes red crabs, also known by locals as tuna crabs, that had been a frequent visitor of the west coast for more than a decade.


Red Crabs Washing Ashore the West Coast Reveals Devastating Truth Underwater

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(Photo: National Marine Sanctuaries / WikiCommons)

According to the scientists, the event was an effect of unusual currents and was an additional culprit to the initial sole suspect being the change in underwater temperature. The freak red crab incidents were not only solved but were also utilized by experts to construct a system that could be used to observe ocean current abnormality.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA and UC Santa Cruz biological oceanographer Megan Cimiho personally saw the bizarre compilation of red crabs, also known as Pleuroncodes planipes, as she was on the way her office located at Monterey. The crabs ashore inspired Cimiha to begin research that would potentially bring enlightenment to the oceanic anomaly.

Cimiha was the principal author of the study published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography entitled "Anomalous poleward advection facilitates episodic range expansions of pelagic red crabs in the eastern North Pacific." Along with her colleagues, Cimiha found an interesting answer to the red crabs stranding on Southern California.

The study was conducted for several months, as gathering data from a periodic event was truly challenging. The data included the analysis of crabs along with their recorded range. Oceanographic surveys from previous research, video records from unmanned oceanic vehicles, and science programs were added to fill in the study of the red crabs' mystery. The work produced comprehensive data of the crustacean's range and strandings between 1950 and 2019, reports SciTech Daily.

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Crustaceans Ashore: Ocean's Current, Underwater Temperature, and Climate Change

The red crabs' weird range extension was also answered through the comparative studies of the temperature and current activities on the west coast. Based on the study, the seawater that flows from Baja California to central California was the sole reason for what the red crabs washed ashore on the west coast beaches. Strong evidence also shows that El Niño and marine heatwaves are responsible for disrupting the temperature underwater.

The study of the currents allowed experts to innovate the southern source water index to have a systematic pattern of the west coast's current activities. This was done through the help of the California Current system, which was developed by experts at UC Santa Cruz. The southern source water index or SSWI provides data on how much water from just the south of the US-Mexico border flows to central California, reports Earth News.

Our changing climate is the biggest factor that ignites abnormality in the oceanic movements, and because of that, underwater species, including crabs, will have no choice but to move out of their habitat's boundaries. Experts emphasized that there are many species aside from the red crabs affected by the change in the ocean's current.

The unwanted migrations of the oceanic species cannot be stopped if the planet's climate would not. Fortunately, to manage the ecosystem of the species, researchers have the source water index as a medium to predict the movements of the homeless species.

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