Grunion Run - 16 May 2014

 Hand Stamp
If you ever have the opportunity to attend a grunion run, take it! It is a window into the vast greatness and perfection of nature, the beauty of the world through the paragon of animals (to paraphrase Shakespeare).
This was an exclusive event for Members (and their families) of the Friends of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.
The Aquarium was open for this night-time event.
There was an informative movie with a Q&A session to learn all about grunions.
Around 11:00 PM we headed over to the out facing beach, to sit in the moon light and wait for the fish to arrive.
Grunion are sardine like, silvery fish that have a unique mating ritual.
Each year just after highest tides (from March-August), they storm the beach by the thousands. A female, surrounded by several males, washes ashore and buries her body into the sand to lay her eggs.  The males gather around, releasing their sperm on the surface of the sand. The milt will seep down the female's body to fertilize the eggs. The fertilized eggs mature in nine days but do not hatch until the return of a high tide that washes them out to sea. It is the swirling of the water that activates their birth. The surviving baby fish will return the following year, to repeat the mating process.
The grunion is protected by law, and may only be caught using the bare hands by those who have a valid California fishing license. The allowed fishing period is limited to certain days and times as regulated by the Department of Fish and Game. Collection of spawning grunion is not allowed during April and May, so we were only allowed to observe, not touch or impede the spawning process.
We sat on the beach near the water line, in the dark, waiting for the action to start. Periodically, the crowd was allowed to turn on flash lights to check out the process. Controlled darkness was mandated to keep from scaring away the fish. At first there were a few here and there...around 11:45 PM we were allowed to turn on the flash lights and view the mass spawning. Fifteen minutes later the beach was closed and everyone sent home. 

Check out the live action below: