Saturday, June 14, 2014

grunion greeting, 2014 #4

female California grunion dug in sand laying eggs
while 4 males cluster around her head
It was all about the group fish p0rn this late 3rd night, high tide after the full moon.  We spotted numerous clusters of 4-5 males per female, as compared to one on one.  This only seems to happen when the runs are heavier, which makes sense.  The females are quite acrobatic, flipping themselves straight up into the air out of the sand to catch the next big wave back to the ocean.  It's totally fun to watch under the light of the full moon.

open season
4 spotted cusk-eels, 1 northern anchovy(?), several grunion

Steve the Fisherman was there (must recruit him!) with 6 other people and 2 buckets when we arrived.  They were the same folks from last year June 8 when Bob Lea measured fish.  They remembered me and asked if I wanted take measurements of their hand catch.  I did, which is a little tricky with wet fish and wet paper and wet pen and wet sand.  Have I mentioned it was wet?  And cold?  I have no idea what I was doing.  They told me they arrived around 10:30, started seeing cusk-eels around 11, and then the grunion followed with ~25 at a time.  I was impressed with how much they knew.  There was a tiny silver fish in their bucket (at 3 o'clock above) that did not look like a grunion.  I'm totally making a guess that it's an anchovy, because my other flash pics of it in my hand, in the dark, did not provide any detail.

Considering the bucket-toting folks were next to the wharf, Andy and I walked down the beach. About 250 yards down, there were another couple spots of grunion.  We stood between the two locations for most of our watch.  Andy walked down to the cement structure past a bonfire group, and he didn't find any additional grunion spots.  A couple hundred came up in a few waves around 12:30, but mostly it was maybe a dozen to 30 or so at a time over the course of 45 minutes that we observed them.  When we returned to the wharf, the group described hundreds coming up onto a long flat section of the beach.  It sounded like a W-3 to me.  For Monterey, this was a good grunion night.  To compare with my past observations, click to see a definite W-3 and a fantastic W-4.

06/12/14 full moon 9:13pm
06/14/14 high tide 11:51pm 6.16 ft
beaches: Municipal
Charlies: 6 + 1 western gull + flock of unknown gulls
others: Andy, Steve the Fisherman, 6 other people grunion fishing by hand, and a bonfire group
my observation time: 11:29pm - 12:57pm
W-2, 30 at a time already running on arrival, couple hundred at a time max