A Grunion Goodbye

Haven't seen the fish-on-land spectacle yet? Your days are dwindling.

FISH "WALK" ON LAND: Here's a true fact, and, yes, there are many asterisks, but, in general, we'll say this point cannot be argued. Here goes: When living things emerge from the ocean, it is generally because humans have extracted them from the ocean. Truth? Pretty much. Exceptions include animals who beach, yes, as well as that fascinating subset of aquatic fauna that leaves the ocean to lay eggs and then returns to the water. Turtles spring to mind first for many of us, but the grunion may be a close second for many a Californian. Surely you know the grunion, or, you prefer, leuresthes tenius? It's a small, slippery, silver fish that shimmies onto shore, depending on the phase of the moon, for part of the spring and summer, to do that whole, epic, eternal, egg-fertilizing and -depositing thing. But, unlike a sea turtle, the grunion's appendages are not fairly robust and even leg-like (we know, science, you'll want to take us to task for calling a sea turtle's flippers "leg-like," but, you know, those turtles rock some meaty, beach-conquering limbs). A grunion has tradition fish-fins, making their journey up onto SoCal beaches truly a shimmy and not a walk.

MEANING? It must be seen. We won't say "...to be believed" because we trust you believe it, being a witness to the marvelous wonders of the natural world. Still, seeing the grunion in person do their shimmying, spawning thing, all without the sea turtle's mega flippers, is a spectacle that is both surreal and frankly marvelous.

BUT... here's the rub. The grunion's 2013 spawning season is soon to wrap. The last three grunion runs at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium are on Monday, June 24, Wednesday, July 10, and Tuesday, July 23. Want to see some grunion action beyond San Pedro? Check out this info sheet from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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