El Nino Knocking on Crystal Cove’s Door

El Nino is officially here!  Over the past month, hordes of small lobster-like creatures have been washing up onto the Crystal Cove’s shores—stunning beachgoers with the sheer numbers of stranded animals.  Pleuroncodes planipes, or Pelagic Red Crabs as they are more commonly known, usually inhabit the warm waters of Baja California.  Their appearance this far north has CCA wondering what other unusual events we may witness this summer.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently upgraded their advisory notice to a full confirmation of an El Nino event.  Fear not however, as El Nino doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing.  El Nino is a cyclical event that occurs naturally every two to seven years, defined by unusually warm ocean temperatures and the potential for increased rainfall in Southern California.

Students aboard CCA’s Marine Protected Area Citizen Science Cruise have also been part of the scientific community monitoring the El Nino trend.  Water samples collected by student research teams have given CCA an inside look at the way the ocean is responding to this natural phenomenon.

The new exhibit in Cottage #46 “Strangers from the Sea,” opening on July 15, will showcase photos of some of the unusual visitors that have been spotted in the water by our partners at Newport Landing Sportfishing.  You can contribute to this monitoring project by snapping a photo when you see something unusual and sharing it with Crystal Cove Alliance via Facebook or Instagram—@crystalcovealliance

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