full moon cycle (11:05pm - 12:35am), partly cloudy skiesWe arrived at Del Monte Beach at 10:35pm. The private cruise ship The World was there again to light up the waters. There were 4 adults and 1 boy out in the water catching grunion. Another group of young people and their dog, which happily ate a grunion, stopped by to check out what was going on. Diane and her coworker Steve also arrived ~11:30pm and walked down the beach together. I felt badly Steve didn't get to see a live grunion except for in a bucket. Before we left at 12:15am, our friend Charlie the night heron came to visit, but there was still too much going on for him to hang around much.
We saw 15 grunion total, with 11 of those showing up before the 11:05 high tide mark. Most were within 25 yards of the pier and at about the 7th parking meter from the bathroom (it didn't seem as high of a tide as during the new moon). We also counted 6 small crabs ~2" wide. This was the first time we've noticed crabs. They floated in on a wave and then quickly buried themselves in the sand. I tried to pick one up, but its pinch was pretty strong for such a little crab.
I talked with one fellow who was collecting and he seemed to know quite a bit about the grunion, including the behavior of scouts. He witnessed a huge grunion run with silvery flashes as far as the eye could see down the beach in June or July of 2007 on a full moon. His girlfriend confirmed the year. There was a beach party at the Adventures by the Sea rental and birds were lined up all along the shore. He said the air smelled like cucumber and noted that happens whenever there's a big run (I found this observation particularly interesting). He said as more people came out to check the run, it seemed to him that there were fewer grunion. He walked down the beach to the cement structure where it was darker and quieter and found even more grunion than by the pier. My husband was excited to hear this part of the story, because he suspected the cement structure would be a prime grunion "hot spot."
The 4 adults arrived a little after 10:00pm and collected 22 grunion. I know they saw quite a few more, because they were having a hard time holding onto the wiggly grunion. They planned to fry the fish whole. The boy managed to catch 3 grunion until his family came to drag him home.
I can't help but wonder if all the grunion collecting and activities stalled a big run from occurring these 2 nights.
ps 10/07/10 - I originally posted the above as an unknown crab. Thanks to a better picture from another grunion greeting night, I was able to ID this crab.