Monday, June 22, 2009

grunion greeting, 2009 #8

Seaside Beach
new moon (10:20-12:20), clear skies

The past 2 nights' late schedules have finally caught up with me. I'm still a little loopy as I edit this posting. We did not spot a single grunion at either Seaside or Del Monte beaches.

We reluctantly signed up online for Seaside Beach since a group was already scheduled to monitor our fave Del Monte Beach. Granted, we feel a bit of claim over Del Monte since we've been there every night plus since the monitoring project started in Monterey this year; but we also feel a responsibility to try to cover the beaches requested in the project.

The warning signs should have, um, well... warned us! Seaside Beach was hella scary!!!

The nondescript tan-black pic with spots above was a wave that ambushed us 20 yards from the wave break! The very steep berm reminded me too much of how the waves break at Mission Beach where several people have died in recent years. I love nature n' all, but it was too dangerous to be out looking for little grunion amongst humongous waves crashing all around us in the dark!

Here are the details:

10:05-10:25 north side of BW hotel. Per Charlie's lead, we headed out before the high tide. There was a massive hump of sand where if waves reached that point they went 30 yards over the downside. We spotted a dead sea lion with its head bitten clean off. I didn't take a pic of the grossness.

Took shelter at BW hotel. Mighty fine hotel and much nicer than it looks from the freeway. Since we live here we don't stay in local hotels, but people always seem to ask me for recommendations.

10:30-11:05 from BW hotel balcony, we observed south and north sides of beach. The south side above was slightly calmer than the north side. Nothing to note save for some wrack and a 3-4 ft. dead silvery fish being tossed around in the waves. Am guessing it was a dead tuna. We found it hard to believe grunion would be spawning in such harsh waters, so we left.

11:15-11:50 not wanting to miss out, we arrived at Del Monte Beach near the volleyball courts. The water was very calm compared to Seaside. We walked to the cement structure and back towards the pier. Met up with Diane and her group, exchanged a few words, looked around, and walked back to the car. NOTHING. One point to note, by an hour after high tide, the water level was still past any previous high tides we've witnessed before (i.e. 6th and 7th parking meters from the bathrooms). The last picture above shows the water level came all the way up level with the bathrooms.

Phooey! I wanted to see a W-3!
northern elephant seal
Mirounga angustirostris

Initially, we believed this was an unusually, big-headed harbor seal, who was despondent over its lost pup - the same cute little one we witnessed at almost the same spot 2 days before during our regular walk. We fabricated a fantastic story of how the 1-800-marine-animal rescue team had whisked away the pup to human care, not realizing the poor momma was soon to return to her child... now missing!

This ID was provided by a very pleasant Marine Mammal Center volunteer. She told us it was a juvenile elephant seal that she believed was looking for a place to molt. The volunteer was waiting for a cohort to provide a "board" to transport the elephant seal to a less conspicuous and heavy-traffic location. I don't know if they took it to Santa Cruz or further south near San Simeon to be with its kind.

Brandt's cormorant
Phalacrocorax penicillatus

Yay, we finally got a picture of a couple eggs. Their blue throats are amazing!

backyard scientists

Thanks to another blog, I discovered this article on the so-called citizen science movement.

Isn't this what I'm doing blogging and faithfully going out in the late hours of the night every 2 weeks to look for grunions? My grunion greeting postings are more detailed than the others, b/c Dr. Martin knows she can find additional information on my blog if she has any questions about my online data submissions.

It's been a while since I published a handful of papers on Northeast Ohio moths. However, life stepped in and I got sidetracked along the way to pursuing a graduate degree. I enjoyed the field work, going out with my net and ID books, sharing with other nature lovers the secrets we witnessed, and relishing the sense of excitement at what new discovery I could make that day. Through creating Nature ID and following other blogs, I'm fully rediscovering my love of nature.

So, here's to all the backyard scientists and bloggers out there, cheers! Your knowledge and photographs are impressive and inspiring, regardless of whether you're "professional" or not. Thanks for sharing!

On a closely related topic, I particularly liked Bug Girl's Blog posting on pseudonyms and anonymity.