The Grunion Are on Approach

Hundreds of squirming silver fish on a beach? It must be spring in SoCal.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Tuesday, Mar 5, 2013  |  Updated 12:15 PM PDT
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The Grunion Are on Approach

Karen Martin/Grunion.org

A person visits the grunion, lending some idea as to scale and number. The season for the silvery fish visiting many our beaches starts in March.

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Dear grunion,

Hi. How are you? Good, we hope. How are the sharks and stuff? Good, good.

We know you're but a little silvery fish -- the leuresthes tenuis, to be exact -- but you do have a way of restoring one's faith in humanity. Just when we think that everyone is simultaneously over it all -- traffic, work issues, the daily dramas -- you wiggle back onshore to the amazement of we landlubbers.

That's rather amazing, right? You're not some CG fish in a film; you actually do come up onto the beaches of California, or several of them, anyway, to spawn. ("Wriggle" is probably a better way to put it than "come up"; agree?) It's a natural sight, nay, wonder, that's been around longer than there've been calendars, so you're certainly not doing it for humanity's delight.

But humanity is indeed delighted by your moon-related reappearance each spring. The warmer months -- spring and summer -- is the time you love best for your terrestrial visits, and new and full moons are the clocks you go by. That blows our minds, truly.

Here's the rub, though, dear grunion: Your lunar love means that the nights we can see you each year are few. Good news, though: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro runs a program called Meet the Grunion on those nights. Humans can also keep track of the whens and wheres at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Grunion Run page. Oh, and we do enjoy Grunion.org from the people at Pepperdine. It's full of facts and videos and such. (Do you have videos in the ocean, grunion? Probably, right? Because you're magical.)

Let's make a date, little fishes. The open season kicks off -- wriggles off? -- on Monday, March 11, and the first "Meet the Grunion" night at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is on Wednesday, March 13.

See you on the beach!

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