El Niño's warm weather brings strange sea creatures to shore
Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 7:00 AM - Sea hares -- purple plant-eating slugs -- have been washing ashore on California beaches, thanks to warmer weather brought about by El Niño.
Hundreds of the large, purple blobs are showing up along the central coast, startling beach-goers.
The strange creatures are harmless, unlike many jellyfish species, which can cause extreme pain when touched.
A few hundred kilometres to the south El Niño appears to have caused thousands of tuna crabs to wash ashore along the San Diego Bay, ABC News reports.
While they've been dotting beaches on the California coast for month, officials say they showed up in larger numbers last week.
The small crabs have provided a feast for local birds, sea lions and fish.
WHAT IS EL NIÑO?"An El Niño event describes the warming of the surface waters in the central Pacific Ocean," writes Chris Burton, a meteorologist with The Weather Network's UK site.
"This might not seem like a huge deal but the warming of a huge area of ocean can have quite a large impact on weather systems around the globe."
North-easterly winds tend to push warm water west across the Pacific towards Indonesia, helping cool waters surface in places like the Mexico and South America.
"An El Niño develops when these north-easterly trade winds weaken, allowing the warmer water over the west Pacific to ‘flood’ towards the Americas," Burton writes.