Santa Monica Grunion Run - May 2010

My friend P is into the grunion so she organized a little meet up in Santa Monica at Ocean Park Blvd. to see if they would make a showing for us. Here's where we were:

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It's the part of Santa Monica south of the Pier where you don't have to cross PCH to get to the water.

I'd never attempted a grunion run viewing and knew nothing about the little fishes so I did a little research. It turns out that . . .

"California grunion are small silvery fish found only along the coast of southern California and northern Baja California. . . Shortly after high tide, on certain nights, sections of these beaches sometimes are covered with thousands of grunion depositing their eggs in the sand."

Check here for a 2010 schedule and some more interesting facts, like these.

"For four consecutive nights, beginning on the nights of the full and new moons, spawning occurs after high tides and continues for several hours. As waves break on the beach, grunion swim as far up the slope as possible. The female arches her body and excavates the semi-fluid sand with her tail to create a nest. She twists her body and digs into the sand until she is half buried, with her head sticking up. She then deposits her eggs in the nest. Males curve around the female and release milt. The milt flows down the female's body until it reaches and fertilizes the eggs."

Sounds kind of . . . sensual. :)

This site is also great because it provides frequent updates about the grunion patterns this year at different beaches.

There is even a scale ranging from W0 (we saw no fish or only a few but no spawning) to W5 (fish covering the beach several individuals deep).

Unfortunately, on this particular night, we didn't see any grunion (I've heard they are a bit elusive this year) but I'd love to go back this summer and try again. It's just nice to be at the beach at night anyway.

In any case, check out some other people's photos of grunion on flickr here like these . . .

photo by inwelynn

photo by Nondo

Here are some photos I took.

not sure what made this line in the sand, but they were everywhere