GREETING THE GRUNION
Not too long after we moved from Colorado Springs to Malibu, we were invited to join a group that was going to the beach at around midnight to watch the grunion run. Well, our first thought was that this was very reminiscent of the famous snipe hunt, a common sophomoric Midwestern prank. However, we were soon convinced by Professor Karen Martin that this was no prank - indeed Dr. Martin, aka the Grunion Queen, is the world's foremost authority on the grunion. Not only is Karen involved in basic research of grunion physiology and ecology, she is also a leader in the preservation and management of beach ecosystems and has had a major impact on beach grooming practices in Southern California.
When I wear my Grunion Greeters jacket in the Rocky Mountain west, there usually is not a glimmer of recognition of what this means. However, occasionally someone will say "I've seen the grunion run!" Our barista in Los Alamos knew all about the grunion, having previously lived in Huntington Beach. You can learn much, much more about the grunion at http://arachnid.pepperdine.edu/grunion/ and below is a video of a run. From about March through August, at the high tides around the time of each new and full moon, the grunion swarm onto the beach to spawn, the only fish to do so. The females bury their tails in the sand to lay their eggs, and the males circle the females to deposit their sperm. At the next high tide, the grunion embryos hatch and scurry into the surf.