Southampton Trustee Eric Shultz says he does not believe that the hundreds of crabs that were reported washed up on the shores of Tiana and Shinnecock Bays on Tuesday were all dead.
On Thursday afternoon, Shultz said he visited the sites of reported dead crabs and said that from what he witnessed, the crabs simply backed out of their shells, which they do several times in their lifecycle.
"It's a common occurrence this time of the year and moon cycle," he said. "It's a time when people harvest them for soft shell crab sandwiches."
When the crabs shed, Shultz said their shells wash up on the shore line and with such a vast number — more than what has been reported in 20 years — washing up, that indicates that there are a large number of crabs in the bays.
With that, however, Shultz said there were some dead crabs in the mix, especially at the end of Corwin Lane. But, he said that could be normal too.
"If they were all dead, that beach would smell, but it doesn't," he said.
Some of the dead crabs could have died from natural causes or were grabbed by a seagull, he said.
"I'd say 75 percent of the crabs I saw were just shells," he said.
Shultz says the jury is still out and he is investigating further by looking into finding out if pesticides were sprayed in the area recently by vector control.
"The spraying is toxic to crabs," Shultz said.
A kill by pesticides is a theory that Kevin McAllister pointed out. McAllister said that the crabs could have also died from an algae or red tide.