Mass falls of crustacean carcasses link surface waters and the deep seafloor

Erik Simon-Lledó, Brian J. Bett Brian J. Bett, Noëlie M. A. Benoist, Henk-Jan Hoving, Dmitry Aleynik, Tammy Horton, Daniel O. B. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


Massive swarms of the red crab Pleuroncodes planipes (Stimpson, 1860), a species of squat lobster, are a dominant functional component of the upwelling ecosystem in the eastern Pacific Ocean (Boyd, 1967; Smith et al., 1975). These swarms can wash ashore on the coast, creating mass depositions of crustacean carcasses, a striking phenomenon that has been long documented in Baja California and California (Aurioles-Gamboa et al., 1994; Boyd, 1967). However, little is known about the fate of crab swarms transported offshore by oceanic currents. In May 2015, using an autonomous deep-sea robot, we discovered an unexpectedly large fall of red crab carcasses (>1000 carcasses ha−1) at a depth of 4050 m on the abyssal Pacific seafloor (Figure 1), almost 1500 km from their spawning areas off the northwest American coast. Several questions arise from this unexpected finding that may help unveil additional close linkages in nutritional transport between processes at the sea surface and the remote abyssal seafloor.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3898
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2023


  • abyss
  • Benthic-pelagic coupling
  • benthic community
  • carbon pump
  • carcasses
  • Clarion Clipperton Zone
  • food-fall
  • megafauna
  • micronekton
  • Pleuroncodes
  • ocean circulation


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