Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grunion Run

This past memorial weekend, N and I got to do something I've been looking forward to for the last year: watch a grunion run.

Grunion are small ~6" long fish that are native to Southern California. They have this crazy mating habit where each year they come to southern california beaches on nights of full or new moons and ride a high-tide wave onto the sand. Females bury their tails into the sand just so their head is sticking out and lay their eggs 2"-3" deep while several males swarm all over her fertilizing them. Then the female flops out of the hole, and the fish wait laying on the sand until the next big wave brings them back to the water.

They come out in huge droves. And since they follow the moon, it can be pretty precisely predicted exactly what spring/summer nights they'll show up. N and I drove down to Cabrillo Beach (about 45 min south of us) at 10pm on Sunday night to catch the 11:05pm-1:05am run.

We'd never been to Cabrillo Beach before and all we knew was that the Grunion tend to run at the ends of the beach. So we brought flip flops and flashlights and wandered our way around the park. We saw a few folk gathering at one end of the beach, but we decided to try the opposite end. We had to climb over a good 10' rock wall to get to the sand, but it was sooooo worth it.

The grunion didn't like lights very much (they'd avoid us if we left our flashlights on for too long), so I only got one clear photo with flash:

And here's a photo of a new mom next to the hole she just laid her orange eggs in and flopped out of. It looks like the roe my parents eat in their Korean food. Yum.

And here it is in all its video recorded glory!:

It was so neat. Except the part where a wave came in and I didn't get out of the way fast enough, so a huge swarm of grunions swam into my feet. That was pretty gross.

No comments: