Wednesday, June 1, 2011

grunion greeting, 2011 #1

grunion greeting
new moon, 10:20-11:25, clear skies

Yep, it's that time of year again - grunion greeting... er, no greeting as the case may be for Andy and me. I can't believe this will be our third year participating in this Pepperdine University study. For those who are not familiar, there are small silvery green ocean fish called grunion (Leuresthes tenuis) that spawn on California beaches during high tides, sometimes in massive numbers. The highest tides occur at night around the new and full moon and are the best times to spot grunion runs. Monterey Bay and San Francisco Bay are the northern limits of where grunion have been reported. We've only seen them a handful of times, like on June 7, 2009, May 25, 2009, and May 24, 2009. Folks in warmer southern California can regularly see massive runs during the spring and summer months. My favorite disco video of grunion I've found is on YouTube.

I previously incorrectly named our standard grunion beach as Del Monte Beach. Since the spring of 2009 when I was figuring out a name for this location, both google and mapquest maps have changed. This is the beach that is closest to the commercial wharf, aka Wharf 2, and I often refer to it as "the pier" in grunion greeting posts as shown in the first photo above. I think technically this beach belongs to the City of Monterey and may not be included in the expansive Monterey State Beach. I don't know who's in charge of drawing lines in the sand.

As for the second picture above, that was a plane with all its lights on coming in for a landing at our local airport. Impromptu sky art. Hey, gotta do something when the grunion don't show for their own party.

Finally, the last picture is of mating Pacific sand crabs, aka Pacific mole crabs (Emerita analoga). We saw hundreds of them in about the same place that we've seen grunion. Interesting to note, for all the times we've been out on the beach at night looking for grunion, the only other time we saw sand crabs was the 2010 June new moon.