Thursday, February 26, 2015

1952 The amazing GRUNION RUN

One of the most memorable nights that I can remember was at a beach just north of Ventura, California. The year was 1952 and my friend Gayle and I had traveled cross country to be there. It was our summer break from college and we were determined to experience as much as was possible in that short time.

We knew nothing about a Grunion Run except that it was a rare occurrence. It was close to midnight and a feeling of tension was in the air as a group of us sat around a blazing bonfire on the sand. There was a full moon and the waves were very active but we had no idea if we would be lucky enough to see the grunion actually make their “run”.

Suddenly a great cry went up, and was heard to echo down the length of the beach: “the grunion are running”...and there they were. Thousands of small, silvery fish were riding a wave to the shore. As the wave receded back into the ocean, the grunion remained on land, the females drilling grooves into the sand as they twirled on their tails, depositing eggs. The male grunion would curve around her in order to fertilize the eggs and the spawning was accomplished before the next wave appeared to return them to the depths of the ocean. It was a sight to behold.

All bedlam broke loose as old and young alike raced for the fish, trying to catch them by hand. They were considered a great delicacy and it was a challenge to harvest them because they were on land for such a short time. The smell of fried fish soon filled the air and I realized that those bonfires were used for more than just alleviating the chill.

Observing the grunion, however, was more to our style than trying to catch them. Gayle and I watched in fascination as the show played out in front of us.. As I understand it, the southern coast of California and the Baja Peninsula are among the very few places where the grunion run so we were fortunate indeed.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I never knew anything about this. Now I do thanks to you.

7:30 PM  
Blogger possum said...

Never heard of this before. How cool! Must've been a fun experience... except for those who got fried!

3:33 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

I had heard of it, but never been there. I didn't realize that the fish were caught and fried right there on the beach.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

I always wondered what happened when they ran. Seems like a tough way to reproduce but what a sight to actually see. Like you, I would have been an observer rather than an eater.

12:33 PM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

It must have been quite a sight.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I so enjoy reliving our California adventure in your blog memories. I remember us counting our tips after work at Pierpont Inn.

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now I'm wondering how the hatchlings make it back into the sea.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

Interesting. I know about grunion but we don't have anything equivalent here in terms of fish. We do have something similar for the epitokes of polychaete worms though. Never eaten those though!

8:41 AM  

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