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Video: What does the red tide at San Diego's Sunset Cliffs portend?

'A minute away': Video of red tide at Sunset Cliffs

San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs area gets a lot of surfers, beach-walkers, tide-poolers — and every once in awhile, as this video attests, a red crustacean invasion.

They’re called tuna crabs, also known as pelagic red crabs, langostillas or, if you must, Pleuroncodes planipes. They’re common in Baja California, more rare in Southern California. But when seawaters become unseasonably warm, they tend to turn up.

That was the case when I shot this video on June 12.

The good news is that these inch-long animals often accompany El Niño conditions, and El Niño conditions often bring heavy rains — perhaps enough rain to end this region’s drought. It’s too soon to tell. But if you’re at a San Diego beach this summer, don’t be surprised by the sight of these creatures, which look like miniature lobsters. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has a little more about them on its website.

“A Minute Away” is a video series in which nothing much happens -- except you see the world, and hear it, and get a respite from workaday life. We’ve covered Machu Picchu, Red Square, the Yucatan, the Alamo, an Alaskan float plane and the reading room of the New York Public Library, among other places. Since early 2013, we've been adding a new minute every week (and some of those “minutes” are closer to 120 seconds. So if you’d prefer an hour or two away, we've got more than enough here for you…

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