Update for April 3-5

First Monitored Grunion Runs of 2007

A Message from Karen Martin, Ph.D., Pepperdine Professor of Biology

Hello Grunion Greeters!

Welcome to another fish-tastic year! CLOSED SEASON, April and May, marks the start of our 6th year of Grunion Greeting. NO TAKE of any kind (except photos of course) is permitted during these months, often the peak spawning period for this unique endemic species.

After 7 workshops from Imperial Beach to Malibu, 340 volunteer citizen scientists are trained and ready to greet the grunion. About 1/3 of our Grunion Greeters are returning from previous years. Returning Greeter Jessica A. sent her good wishes Thursday afternoon: "Thanks for the inside info -- I am all set -- just have to wait another 8 hours. Hope you find fish wherever you wind up."

Margret with grunion. photo by Drew Shorkey

New recruit Jacqueline D. reported: "It was a beautiful night and the fish were covering the entire beach. It was my first run and I loved it!" New Greeter Teri B. in San Diego wrote, "Amazing - some waves deposited solid grunion, several fish deep, looked like they were being poured out of a trawler's net. Nearly solid in places--at times resembling sardines in a can as they wriggled and lined up packed side by side, extending 30-40 meters along the tide line at the peak."

Grunion runs at all levels in between were reported on our California beaches. Annette R. decided, "We think the intensity of grunion activity was truly between a W-3 and W-4." Rose Marie G. after conferring with "GGs Sue and Deborah, agreed this run was a Top W1 and almost a W2." Laura C. observed, "At 1045 hours the run was a W2. It progressed to a W5 at 1200 hours." Vera K. says, "We had the best time ever. I could not believe how much fish came onto the beach." Grunion Greeter Supreme Larry Fukuhara of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium: "There were so many grunion after 11:30p that it was a definite 6." 

Running all over the beach, photo by Laura Congdon

Heather K. was less fortunate: "We didn't see any run, but possibly a few scouts." Leah T. took a positive outlook, "Only 2 grunion were spotted but we got our walking in for the day." One possible explanation, as Captain Mike noted: "Itís hard to keep spring break party go'rs off the beach. Maybe tomorrow night." Jessica G. saw "Fish were in larger groups where people were not. As we would continue North, the same pattern. FUN!"

Pepperdine Students Welcome the Grunion!, photo by Jacqueline Devoto

Poachers

Margret H. saw an, "Awesome run!!! There were about 6-8 poachers on the beach but we informed them about open and closed season and almost all of them dumped their buckets and left!"

Predators

Gaynell S.: "I think I saw a willet fly away with one of the few grunions we saw (less than 10). There were many black-crowned night herons, willets, small sandpipers (too small to eat grunion); otherwise the beach was very quiet." Others reported Black crowned night herons, sea lions, shorebirds, guitar fish, "more birds than grunion in some spots," terns, pelicans, willets, diving birds, snowy egret, cat, sanderlings, sea gulls, great blue heron, plovers, dogs, black skimmers, seals and sea lions.

Seal lion at Huntington Beach, photo by Cole Mobley, Grunion CSI

Thanks for finding the time to attend a workshop and then to go out on the beach for observations. With very few hitches, your sign-ups worked out and your reports came pouring in. "All in all it was a great start ... in fact it was the best "first night" for me yet," said Chris L., beginning his third year as a Greeter. Returning Greeter Harry A. went out two nights and bragged "2 for 2 so far this season and 2/3rds of the way towards my beach towel!"

Please send in your reports and sign up to monitor the next runs on April 19 and 20. And donít forget to notify the Squid Squad if any jumbo squid show up in your neighborhood.

May the fish be with you!

Celebrating the Successful Grunion Greeter!, photo by C. Anselmo

 

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