Anchor ads are not supported on this page.

4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Run, Grunion!

'When they come up, the female [grunion] actually spiral down like a drill into the sand and lay their eggs in the sand, and the males drop the milt, or sperm, onto the eggs," says Birch Aquarium executive director Nigella Hillgarth. "It may only take thirty seconds, but some [fish] stay on the beach for several minutes." On Sunday, May 28, the Birch Aquarium will host Grunion Run Fun, a lecture and film followed by a guided exploration of the beach where grunion are expected to spawn. In the past, grunion have been found on areas of Solana Beach, Del Mar, La Jolla Shores, and Pacific Beach. Scientists can predict general areas where the fish may appear based on tide information, but no one location for spawning seems to be consistently popular among the grunion. This species of fish is only found off the West Coast from Baja California to Point Conception, which is about 50 miles north of Santa Barbara.

It is not legal for people over age 16 to catch grunion unless they have obtained a fishing license. "We encourage people to be naturalists," says Hillgarth. "I don't think we've ever had anyone come [to one of our events] with a license. Most people come with their families and stand quietly on the beach to see [the grunion], which, to me, is as exciting as whale watching."

The Department of Fish and Game stipulates that sport fishers may use only their hands to capture grunion. At most sites, spawning grunion number in the hundreds to thousands. But, advises the Department of Fish and Game, "Despite local concentrations, grunion are not abundant," and they are not sold commercially.

"We're all a bit worried about the future of the grunion, though they're not endangered at the moment," says Hillgarth. "A lot of things could affect them very easily, like beach erosion and pollution. If they can't lay their eggs in a decent place, then that's a problem." Fertilized eggs remain in the sand for two weeks, or until the next high tide. The fish are able to spawn at the end of their first year.

Sponsored
Sponsored

"Grunion eggs can survive in dried sand for several months," Hillgarth explains. "All that is needed to activate them, which is what happens during high tide, is movement in the water that causes [the eggs] to break open." It is difficult to spot the tiny, newly hatched grunion. "They're minuscule, like the size of a pinhead."

The Department of Fish and Game explains how, like sea monkeys, grunion eggs can be hatched at home "by collecting a cluster of eggs after a grunion run [any clump of sand from the spawning area should contain eggs] and keeping them in a loosely covered container of damp sand in a cool spot for 10 to 15 days. Then add one teaspoon of sand and eggs to one cup of sea water and shake gently; the eggs will hatch before your eyes in a few minutes."

Grunion can grow up to eight inches in length and live for up to three years. Because they are not sold commercially, you will never find them in a restaurant. However, sport fishers do eat them. Grunion, which taste like smelt, can be prepared like any other fish. A recipe for "Grunion and String Bean Parcel" suggests cooking the fish and beans inside a foil roasting bag with butter and spices. According to beachcalifornia.com, grunion can be baked or fried but "are best used...in a green bean casserole."

Open season for grunion begins in March and ends in August, but is closed April through May in accordance with a regulation passed in 1947 to protect the fish during those peak spawning months. The time at which grunion appear on the beaches varies from night to night, depending on the tides. Grunion runs occur on the first four nights of either a full moon or a new moon. According to the Department of Fish and Game's chart, spawning on May 27 is expected between 9:45 p.m. and 11:45 p.m. and the following evening from 10:25 p.m. to 12:25 a.m. When they are not spawning, these nonmigratory fish swim fairly close to shore and rarely go beyond 60 feet in depth.

According to the volunteer group known as the Grunion Greeters, poachers (the term includes licensed anglers using anything other than their hands) have been seen using gear like nets to catch grunion. Grunion Greeters strongly encourage catch and release and requests (as does the Department of Fish and Game) that people take only those fish they themselves will consume. Hillgarth maintains, however, "The human side of catching grunion is only a problem when added to all of the effects of pollution and erosion." -- Barbarella

Grunion Run Fun with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Sunday, May 28 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Reservations are required: Please call the aquarium at 858-534-7336 Cost: $12 adults; $9 children 6 to 13 Info: 858-534-7336 or aquarium.ucsd.edu

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Looking to the bright lights of Mainly Mozart

The two concerts at the Conrad are going to be special occasions
Next Article

Looking to the bright lights of Mainly Mozart

The two concerts at the Conrad are going to be special occasions

'When they come up, the female [grunion] actually spiral down like a drill into the sand and lay their eggs in the sand, and the males drop the milt, or sperm, onto the eggs," says Birch Aquarium executive director Nigella Hillgarth. "It may only take thirty seconds, but some [fish] stay on the beach for several minutes." On Sunday, May 28, the Birch Aquarium will host Grunion Run Fun, a lecture and film followed by a guided exploration of the beach where grunion are expected to spawn. In the past, grunion have been found on areas of Solana Beach, Del Mar, La Jolla Shores, and Pacific Beach. Scientists can predict general areas where the fish may appear based on tide information, but no one location for spawning seems to be consistently popular among the grunion. This species of fish is only found off the West Coast from Baja California to Point Conception, which is about 50 miles north of Santa Barbara.

It is not legal for people over age 16 to catch grunion unless they have obtained a fishing license. "We encourage people to be naturalists," says Hillgarth. "I don't think we've ever had anyone come [to one of our events] with a license. Most people come with their families and stand quietly on the beach to see [the grunion], which, to me, is as exciting as whale watching."

The Department of Fish and Game stipulates that sport fishers may use only their hands to capture grunion. At most sites, spawning grunion number in the hundreds to thousands. But, advises the Department of Fish and Game, "Despite local concentrations, grunion are not abundant," and they are not sold commercially.

"We're all a bit worried about the future of the grunion, though they're not endangered at the moment," says Hillgarth. "A lot of things could affect them very easily, like beach erosion and pollution. If they can't lay their eggs in a decent place, then that's a problem." Fertilized eggs remain in the sand for two weeks, or until the next high tide. The fish are able to spawn at the end of their first year.

Sponsored
Sponsored

"Grunion eggs can survive in dried sand for several months," Hillgarth explains. "All that is needed to activate them, which is what happens during high tide, is movement in the water that causes [the eggs] to break open." It is difficult to spot the tiny, newly hatched grunion. "They're minuscule, like the size of a pinhead."

The Department of Fish and Game explains how, like sea monkeys, grunion eggs can be hatched at home "by collecting a cluster of eggs after a grunion run [any clump of sand from the spawning area should contain eggs] and keeping them in a loosely covered container of damp sand in a cool spot for 10 to 15 days. Then add one teaspoon of sand and eggs to one cup of sea water and shake gently; the eggs will hatch before your eyes in a few minutes."

Grunion can grow up to eight inches in length and live for up to three years. Because they are not sold commercially, you will never find them in a restaurant. However, sport fishers do eat them. Grunion, which taste like smelt, can be prepared like any other fish. A recipe for "Grunion and String Bean Parcel" suggests cooking the fish and beans inside a foil roasting bag with butter and spices. According to beachcalifornia.com, grunion can be baked or fried but "are best used...in a green bean casserole."

Open season for grunion begins in March and ends in August, but is closed April through May in accordance with a regulation passed in 1947 to protect the fish during those peak spawning months. The time at which grunion appear on the beaches varies from night to night, depending on the tides. Grunion runs occur on the first four nights of either a full moon or a new moon. According to the Department of Fish and Game's chart, spawning on May 27 is expected between 9:45 p.m. and 11:45 p.m. and the following evening from 10:25 p.m. to 12:25 a.m. When they are not spawning, these nonmigratory fish swim fairly close to shore and rarely go beyond 60 feet in depth.

According to the volunteer group known as the Grunion Greeters, poachers (the term includes licensed anglers using anything other than their hands) have been seen using gear like nets to catch grunion. Grunion Greeters strongly encourage catch and release and requests (as does the Department of Fish and Game) that people take only those fish they themselves will consume. Hillgarth maintains, however, "The human side of catching grunion is only a problem when added to all of the effects of pollution and erosion." -- Barbarella

Grunion Run Fun with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Sunday, May 28 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Reservations are required: Please call the aquarium at 858-534-7336 Cost: $12 adults; $9 children 6 to 13 Info: 858-534-7336 or aquarium.ucsd.edu

Comments
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Effective Repair Hacks: How to Repair Your Sewer Line Without Causing Damage to Your House and Garden

Next Article

Christ Episcopal Church says God loves us, warts and all

“My job as a preacher isn’t to get up to tell people what to do.”
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox Movies@Home — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close

Anchor ads are not supported on this page.