Advertisement

On the grunion hunt

June 11, 2009|By Chris Epting

For years since we moved to Huntington Beach, I have wanted to go on a grunion run. So when the call came last week that Bill Burhans, a seasonal interpretive specialist for the Department of Parks and Recreation, would be leading a small group of Amigo de Bolsa Chica members along the beach one night at 11:30 p.m., I happily tagged along (with my son in tow).

Now, you may have read Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray’s column last week about how successful the trip was. They were there; they know what we all witnessed. But it was so spectacular, I thought I’d add to the mix with this column. I’ve heard from so many people over the years who have spent many a late night in search of the elusive grunion, only to come home tired, wet and grunionless, I wanted to reiterate the hope that grunions spring eternal in Huntington Beach.

Advertisement

Some background from the definitive grunion site, www.grunion.org:

“California grunion are a species of marine fish found only along the coast of Southern California and northern Baja California. They are justifiably famous for their unique spawning behavior. Grunion spawn completely out of the water and lay their eggs on many sandy beaches in California. Shortly after high tide, on specific nights, sections of these beaches sometimes are covered with thousands of grunion dancing about on the sand. The popularity of these grunion runs means that some nights there are more people lining the beaches than grunion in the run.”

Now, there’s no guarantee that any grunion will appear on said nights, but if they do, this is what happens afterward:

“The eggs remain buried in the sand throughout incubation, fully out of water for approximately two weeks. The larvae hatch when the eggs wash out by high waves during tides before the new and full moons. Grunion spawn at the age of one year, and live for two to four years. Because of their vulnerability during the spawning season, they are protected by a closed season. No taking of grunion is permitted during April and May. During other months, no gear is permitted so collection may take place only with bare hands, and a fishing license is required..”

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles
|
|
|