Lobster-like red crabs wash ashore near Newport

Lobster-like red crabs washing ashore in Oregon

NEWPORT, Ore. -- Since Wednesday, strange looking red crabs have washed on Nye Beach and other areas of the coastline around Newport.

They have several names: Squat Lobster, Tuna Crab Pelagic Crab.

It’s a small red creature that looks more like a lobster with light bodies that float along with the currents.

“They just rode the currents from Mexico to Oregon. And that is a very complex set of currents –that somehow—maybe pushed by the southerly winter storms ended up all the way up here,” said Mitch Vance, a researcher for Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.

He admits no one knows for sure exactly how the crabs ended up on the beaches of  Newport, more than a thousand miles from their home waters.

He said warm El Niño currents pushed lots of life north in 2014 and 2015. But the water has cooled now.

“So it is surprising to see these southern species way up here in Oregon, especially without a really strong southerly current signal right now,” he said.

On Wednesday, there were lots of whole crabs on the beach for the curious to see.

This is a scene more often found in San Diego. Most on the Oregon beaches were dead--and picked apart by seagulls.

On Friday, there are only bits left on Nye beach.

Since scientists don’t really know what brought them this far north, they also don’t know if others will wash ashore in the coming days.

“Uncommon occurrences happen all the time. And that is the beauty of being right here on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, this great basin. Funny things happen and it’s very interesting to see things that wash up on the beach,” said Vance.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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