Thousands of crabs wash up on beaches across England

Thousands of dead sea creatures have been washing up on beaches across England, many washed ashore after being washed up. The blue crabs have washed up on beaches from across the country, including Croydon,…

Thousands of crabs wash up on beaches across England

Thousands of dead sea creatures have been washing up on beaches across England, many washed ashore after being washed up.

The blue crabs have washed up on beaches from across the country, including Croydon, Merseyside, Hampshire, West Sussex, Yeovil, Devon and Greater London.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said a host of factors could be behind the presence of the crabs, including their curious behaviour, ocean conditions, the currents and flushing events which swept the crabs out to sea.

Blue crabs, who grow to about a metre and weigh up to 10kg, spend most of their lives at sea and are not usually a threat to people.

A majority of the beach creatures wash up because the organisms have been transported from one location to another by water currents.

Dr John Silvester, a professor of marine wildlife conservation at the University of Sheffield, said: “They are on their travels, and they get quite excited and agitated.

“They drop their antennae, and they run around in search of food and water. They often come ashore because of them dropping their antennae and by them being a moving organism when the water surface is low and the crabs come down the tide, they may fall off.”

Populations of these crabs have fluctuated across the coast for a long time, Silvester said. When there are higher numbers, they tend to survive better at beach locations.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the blue crabs were “just one of a range of wild marine creatures which wash up on the shores of England every year”.

“We’re also dealing with similar types of organisms such as jellyfish, which are often disturbed by high tides, so have a different occurrence and prove costly to collect on the beaches,” he said.

“Fish and invertebrates such as crabs have a vital role in our ocean ecosystems, and provide food for other marine life and increase biodiversity.

“People can keep an eye out for these creatures, keep a good distance, and, if possible, release them back into the sea.”

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