Hot Damn! Under the full moon, at high tide, on Alameda's Crown Beach from midnight to 1:35 a.m. On the Solstice. I went out with Jody, a colleague from work. We are Grunion Greeters. We were lookin' for spawning grunion and we found 'em! And they were having it...sex on the beach. Hot Damn!
If you are unfamiliar with grunion, they are a small silvery fish found only along the coast of southern California and northern Baja California. And they are legendary in southern California for the remarkable spawning spectacle that occurs shortly after high tide on full moon and new moon nights from March through September. Hundreds, even thousands of them come out of the water completely to lay their eggs in the wet sand of the beach. And then hundreds or thousands more of them deposit sperm on the sand that filters down with the next wave and fertilizes the eggs. This phenomenon draws hundreds and thousands of spectators and grunion hunters to SoCal beaches in the middle of the night.
So what were we doing on a NoCal beach? And on the Bay? I'm glad you asked. It's kinda hard to differentiate between grunion, topsmelt and jacksmelt so they are often taken for latter two, which are present in San Francisco Bay in far larger numbers. But grunion have been observed in the Bay during several recent fish studies. So it follows that they must be spawning here, but nobody's seen it happening. That is, nobody until the 2005 Grunion Greeters, of which I am one, came along. We counted 53 tonight, not impressive by SoCal standards, but some other Grunion Greeters saw none. It helps that I was out with someone who knew what to look for and where to look, and once I got the hang of it, I could easily see the difference between the gleam on the waves and the gleam of a tiny silverside fish flailing about on the sand. I even saw a female in the classic egg-laying pose. Jody took photos but those little buggers are fast and make photography difficult. If any of them are good, I'll post them. I could go on and on but...there's a website that explains the grunion phenomenon much better than I can.
Let's just say we went, we watched, and we saw sex on the beach. Under the full moon. On the solstice.