The Popular Cabrillo Beach Grunion Run
What can be better than walking along the beach during a full or new moon? Walking along the beach and seeing thousands of silvery fish flashing around on the sand! Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro is the place to go in the South Bay if you want to view this breath taking display. These silvery fish that seem to glitter while flopping around on the beach are grunion.
Shortly after a full or new moon the grunions ride the waves onto the sand to spawn. Females surf the tide then wiggle up the shore where they bury themselves into the sand. The males follow after, wrapping themselves around the females to fertilize the eggs. They come in groups of thousands. Eggs will remain hidden in the sand for about nine days. The next occurrence of turbulent high tides encourages the eggs to hatch, and the young grunion swim out to sea.
Hands On Learning
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium hosts a program called Meet the Grunion on a regular basis. They have special presentations on the fish and are very knowledgeable if anyone has questions. It is $5 for adults and $1 for kids or seniors, for a docent led tour and presentation.
I went with my son once and we were each given a container with sand and water in it. We shook up the container and saw the grunion eggs hatch inside right before our eyes. It was amazing to watch and to learn that the grunion need the tides both for spawning and hatching.
Planning Your Visit
During open season anyone with a fishing license or children under the age of 16 can catch the grunion by hand. You can get a fishing licence at the Big 5 on Gaffey Street. Bring a video camera because watching everyone wrangle the slippery fish is worth seeing more than once. Fish must be caught by hand. Buckets or nets are prohibited.
Also, to protect the population of the grunion there is a closed season. During that time, grunion can be viewed but not caught. You do not need a fishing license if you are not planning on catching any fish. Check the schedule for dates and times that grunions are expected. Please do not turn on any flashlights or make any loud noises until the grunion have already flopped ashore, or the grunion could be spooked and will not spawn during that time.
It is recommended that you bring warm clothes as it does get a little chilly. A warm person to cuddle with is optional. Please be advised that on grunion run nights the parking lot closes at midnight. In addition, there is no street parking after 10:00pm.
There is something soothing about wrapping up in a warm blanket and listening to the sounds of the tide while waiting in anticipation for the grunion. Even if the grunions decide not to appear, the trip itself creates long lasting, cheerful memories.
If you have ever experienced a Cabrillo Beach grunion run, please share your experience by posting below!
3720 Stephen M White Dr., San Pedro, CA 90731