When we got to the house in Washington all up and down the beach were crab carapaces. There was even an article in book of tide tables called “Why are all the crabs dying?”
The short answer is, they’re not. Summer is crab molting season. Most of the shells washed up on the shore were completely empty of crab; a split in the back of the shell showing where they had backed out of their skins to start a new, larger, life.
I collected some of the smaller ones and let them dry in lifelike poses to bring home. The colors varied widely, purple, orange, yellow, red. The shells always amaze me. The perfect echo of a resident long gone.