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El Niño Brought Crabs Instead of Rain This Year

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Experts say warm ocean water has caused thousands of small crustaceans to wash ashore in Orange County

Once predicted to bring historic rainfall totals to Southern California, this year's El Niño has turned out to be a pretty big disappointment. Still, while the weather event failed to bring much rain to the region, it looks like it has managed to deliver one thing: crabs. Thousands of tiny crabs. For the last week, the critters have been washing up in scores on the beaches of Orange County, and experts say that El Niño may be delivering them.

Crab feed?!? #scenesfromcdm

A photo posted by T.W.O. (@twinswithoriginality) on

As the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot reports, scientists have speculated that the warmer ocean temperatures that precipitate El Niño events also cause these red tuna crabs to wash ashore more frequently. Last year, tens of thousands of the crabs arrived on Orange County beaches in June, covering huge swaths of shoreline.

Sadly, most of the crustaceans arriving on Laguna Beach and other nearby shores are no longer living. They also do not appear to be very good for snacking on, if you were wondering. Still, they have certainly given the beaches of Orange County a striking new look—and beachgoers some nice opportunities for social media fodder. That's not quite as helpful as some badly needed rainfall, but at least El Niño didn't show up to SoCal completely empty-handed.

Dead and dying #redcrabs at #piratescove in #coronadelmar

A photo posted by Christine Lister (@psychprof) on

#lowtide #lovenature #lagunabeach #crescentbay #redtide #redcrabs

A video posted by Trisha Phegley (@pyurerproducts) on