No Fish Story: It’s the Most Grunion-ful Time of Year

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium invites you to admire the on-the-beach gill-rocking wonders.

Karen Martin/

What to Know

  • April 2, with select dates to come
  • Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
  • $5 adults, $1 children/seniors/students

There's something headed this way, something a bit unusual, something from the animal world, something that might be affectionately deemed a critter or a beastie, and while we don't see it every day, we can definitely look for it in the springtime.

A hint? Okay then.

It is not carrying a basket full of chocolate rabbits, nor does it have long ears, but if you asked us whether it had something to do with eggs, we'd have to answer "you're on the right path."

The Easter Bunny is a solid guess, as we head towards the holiday, but it is the return of the grunion that we speak of here, a happening that is underway.

For the small and fantastically silver fish reappears, like clockwork, or more like tidework or moonwork, each springtime, at several California shores, in impressive droves.

Why? To spawn. On the sand. Of the beach. Fishies wriggling up on land is the picture you should be visualizing right now, if you can imagine this seemingly preposterous scenario.

Preposterous though, it is not, and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium takes time each spring and summer to present a program on this astonishing annual wonder, the science behind it, why the grunion spawn on the beach, and all the grunion-tastic grunion facts your grunion-obsessed heart desires.

This informative program happens over a handful of special nights each year, when the grunion are due to show near the San Pedro aquarium, and while the program begins inside, you will walk to the water to admire this not-to-be-forgotten sight.

Be there on Monday, April 2 at 9 p.m., pay five dollars if you're an adult, or a dollar if you're a child, senior, or student.

The grunion clearly don't know this is a school night, but that's cool, because these silvery superstars have to remain faithful to their own strictly observed schedule.

Tinkering with the grunion's time-honored calendar? Who would even dare?

There are a few more nights to come, in 2018, and note that some are closed, and some are open, which means that grunion may not or may be taken (during open season, a license to do so is required).

April 2 falls in the closed season, keep in mind.

Also, on Thursday, May 17? Wait for it: It's the Fish-tival, which is a "... celebration of all things grunion."

No fish story here: We're in the grunioniest time of year, and lovers of late-night oceanic outings, beautiful bucket-list-y adventures, and age-old mysteries (that are actually explained by science) should swish their own fins in the direction of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

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