Wednesday, August 5, 2009

grunion greeting, 2009 #14

grunion greeting
full moon (10:35pm-12:35am), mostly cloudy

Heavy sigh... this moon cycle is supposed to be the last hurrah for the Monterey area... and one of the last chances to report the elusive W-3 on the 800 hotline! If I understand correctly, the grunion greeting program finished last month down in SoCal. We'll be out again Thursday night and, possibly, Friday night... if only I can convince my better-half to go with me at such a late hour for a 3rd night in a row - it's especially challenging since high tide on a third night doesn't start until well after midnight. Once we got home, we did manage to catch Craig Ferguson on the CBS tube, which airs on t.v. too late for our typical 10pm sleeping schedule. That man should be given a band, IMHO (haha). Okay, getting back to subject...

No grunion observed. However, it was a lovely, warm evening chatting it up with other "official" grunion greeters - Diane, Bonnie, and Susanna. They're wonderful ladies! I feel badly Susanna has yet to see a single grunion during this whole season. Bonnie went out the second night during the last new moon cycle, the only time we did not. She saw a couple of grunion. For actual grunion pics this season, see my "grunion greeting" tagged posts for June 7, May 25, and May 24th.

We arrived at 10:10pm, a little before the official requested time and high tide. It wasn't much of a high tide since the biggest waves only came up between the 8th & 9th parking meters. There were ~5 people on the beach wading in the waters and simply enjoying themselves when we arrived. Much to my surprise, there were no mackerel fishermen on the wharf. A handful of the usual nighttime fisherman were tossing their lighted bobs from the pier (I had to go ask, b/c we were coming up with wild ideas of how the chemical lights somehow attracted fish).

My husband and I walked down the beach to the cement structure between 11:10 and 11:25pm, to no avail. We found a partially eaten skate on the shore (pictured above). A certain amount of debate carried on whether it was a ray or not, but thanks to Bonnie's expertise, we finally concluded it was a skate based on the tail. I loved the human-like face on the underside.

There was extra lighting on the beach sands thanks to bright lights from the Bronco World Series just down the street. A small group of western and other gulls showed up on the berm about a half hour before we left. They seemed to be hunting but not for grunion.

We left at 12:20am. Phooey!

ps 05/13/10 - Thanks to seeing a leopard shark today and looking around online, I figured out the picture above is a thornback skate (Raja clavata). Are skates and rays the same?

psss 07/11/13 - After having seen another skate, I looked into this some more and am fairly sure this is not a thornback skate since it doesn't appear to be found in the Pacific Ocean.  Finding easily accessible online ID sites for marine animals is a challenge.  Here's a good link describing the difference between skates and rays.

naked lady ~ 08/05/09 ~ Rec Trail

naked lady
Amaryllis belladonna
Amaryllidaceae (formerly Liliaceae)

You know it's August in the Monterey area when naked ladies pop up everywhere. I just love pointing them out and saying the common name. I was surprised to find out that they are native to South Africa, b/c we have so many in people's yards, empty lots, and even right along the bay. This pic was taken along the Rec Trail near Hopkins Marine Station.

ps 09/09/09 - Naked ladies have all withered more than a week ago. They are truly an August bloom.

purple-striped jelly ~ 08/05/09 ~ Coast Guard Pier

posted 11/26/13 - As I was looking up information on Pacific sea nettle this morning, I also discovered the ID of this less common local jellyfish.

sea nettle ~ 08/05/09 ~ Coast Guard Pier

sea nettles
Chrysaora fuscescens

Much to our surprise these jellyfish were still hanging around the Coast Guard Pier more than a week after we first saw them. As is the case with moon jellies, I'll see them one day and then they'll be completely gone the next. I still don't know which kind these are and hope to look them up at some point. Ah, to give credit where credit is due, my husband took these very nice pics. It was a great sunny day!

ps - Thanks to an article in the Monterey Herald on August 12, 2009, I now know these are sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens).

pss 09/09/09 - As of September 6, 2009, these jellies are still very numerous around the Coast Guard pier. I've never seen them last so long.

pss 09/25/09 - This past Sunday (9/20/09), we finally noticed the jellies were not as numerous with only 5 spotted near the Coast Guard pier.

pss 08/22/10 - After not seeing many jellyfish since last year, there were tons of them out by the Coast Guard Pier this morning during my regular morning walk. They're smaller this year, maybe about 8" across at the most and very numerous.