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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

So cool!

Well, it finally happened — we found our first live Pelagic Red Crabs (Pleuroncodes planipes) in Bodega Bay!

Although we have found parts of these southern crabs a few times prior to this (in October 2015, February 2016, and earlier in January 2017), we found 19 live crabs on Salmon Creek Beach tonight.

Most of them were ~9-10 cm long (with the tail tucked underneath):

Here's a view from above:

And one in my hand (Note: they can pinch!):

It was very exciting to see them alive.  It appeared that they were just washing in this evening, having just been left behind by the receding waves.

Let me know if you see any on beaches near you!

For the record, we also found a half a dozen Purple Sea Snails (Janthina umbilicata) today:

This was somewhat unexpected.  The water has cooled down this year, and we haven't seen any Janthina in Bodega Bay since last spring.  [Interestingly, the our first sighting of Janthina last year was on 19 January 2016.  To review information about Janthina, click here.We have a lot to learn about the movements of these tropical species to northern waters.  


Dan Gurney said...

Very interesting. Seeing tropical species in our waters is a bit concerning, isn't it?

It would seem to suggest that climate change—global warming, really—is happening right here, right now.

Jackie Sones said...

Hi, Dan,

This is an interesting topic. These species (Pelagic Red Crabs and Purple Sea Snails) have responded to El Nino conditions in the past (e.g., during the El Nino in 1982-1983 and at least as far back as the mid-1800s). So their presence here this year is not necessarily a sign of global warming.

On the other hand, if climate change influences the frequency or strength of El Nino conditions going forward, that could change how often we see these more tropical/subtropical species and it could also lead to changes in local species/populations.

It will be very important to document future conditions and observations.

Thanks for the comment!