Bellineth Valencia had the first tow of Cycle 4, and her ring net tow was defined by two things: thousands of tiny Calanus copepods, and tuna crabs! The tuna crabs (genus Pleuroncodes) are not common in these waters; they are normally off of Baja California. But last summer, with the abnormally warm waters in this region [colloquially called “The Blob”], we caught them by the hundreds. And now, with the warm waters of El Niño, we expected to see them again. What is surprising is that we are only 20 nautical miles from Cycle 3, that was crabless, and here we have tons! You can see them swimming at the surface at night as well.
The ring net in action. It’s weighted down so it sinks vertically into the water.
Belli preparing her tow-collecting bucket, that was soon full of tuna crabs. She was only looking for Calanus copepods for a grazing experiment, so the crabs had to be taken out into another bucket.
Close-ups of the tiny crabs.