Thursday, May 27, 2010

grunion greeting, 2010 #2

grunion greeting
full moon cycle, 10:10-11:15pm, clear skies

Yep, it's that time again... for extra-fuzzy late-night pics from me. To cut to the chase, no grunion. High tide was at 10:22pm with a relatively big 6.03 feet.

When we arrived, we recognized Dr. G and his cohorts right away. You can make out the coolers for collecting on the right in the first picture. BUT, it's closed season here until the end of May! However, down on the beach we met a lovely young woman named Liz. She's the researcher from SUNY and made it clear, without any questions from me, that she had a permit to collect for research purposes. I asked why someone all the way from New York would be studying a fish found only along California's coast. Her lab also studies Atlantic silverside (Menidia menidia) and there's apparently a similar behavioral relationship of spawning at high tide, like with grunion (Leuresthes tenuis).

We also greeted Diane (our favorite fellow grunion greeter from last year), Bonnie (also from last year), and Sheryl (a newbie). It was nice to catch up with them. Diane and Bonnie had just come from a local Cetacean Society meeting where they learned about the endangered status of vaquita, the world's smallest known cetacean. Diane was kind enough to let us know she saw our ol' night heron friend "Charlie" before Dr. G's crowd arrived.

We saw two young sea lions on the beach. We didn't observe any on the beach last year. As per our usual get-away-from-the-crowd desire, we walked down the beach to the cement structure. Even if we don't see grunion, it's nice to get out to enjoy the soothing waves on a full moon.

For videos that show much better than I've been able, since we keep getting skunked in Monterey, check out YouTube's posts: La Jolla Grunion Run 2008 (I like this mainly for the disco music accompaniment) and Grunion run at Doheny Beach (actually quite informative for a news clip).


Anonymous said...

OK, I'll admit to ignorance: what's the attraction? Does the ocean get all silver sparkly from the interaction of fish and full moon?

Nature ID said...

The moon-influenced hide tide works for the 2 week gestation period of the grunion eggs. I've added a ps above with links to videos to help show what I've not been able to capture.

Nature ID said...

I guess I should clarify that hide tides, especially during full and new moon cycles, means the ocean water covers beach places that normally don't get covered and won't again until the next moon cycle. Does that make sense?

John W. Wall said...

I can't believe I've lived in CA so long without ever seeing a grunion run. I guess I've been in the north too long.

Nature ID said...

Hey, John. I'd like to see a decent grunion run myself! We saw some last year here, but it seems the impressive action is south of Point Conception. We've been thinking of heading down there, but the timing hasn't worked out for us.