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Don't Miss The Amazing Annual Grunion Run!

Like every other San Diegan in the know, the Sofia Hotel is excited about the fast-approaching peak season for one of our coastline’s most remarkable yearly events: the grunion run!

We’ve written here before about this unique phenomenon, which involves thousands of shiny-scaled fish squirming out of the incoming swash at night to lay and fertilize their eggs in the foreshore sand. So let’s just review the standout facts about this wonder of San Diego nature.

A One-of-a-kind Spectacle

Watching a writhing mass of grunion on La Jolla Shores, Mission Beach, or another San Diego seashore, you might assume these fish are a dime a dozen. And they aren’t terribly dramatic-looking as far as finned creatures go, so you might further assume that they’re among the widespread forage fish of the seas.

Actually, California grunion have a strikingly restricted range: As the California Department of Fish and Wildlife notes, their stronghold is just between Point Conception south to Point Abreojos in Baja California. And the population is threatened by coastal development and beach erosion.

In other words, we’re very lucky to have these athletic little silversides perform their spawning ritual on our local beaches!

Timing, Timing, Timing

We’re right on the cusp of prime grunion-spawning time, which typically extends from late March through August. The fish spawn on the four nights following the high tide of a full or new moon. The California DFW has a calendar showing the likeliest spawning times for the 2015 season on their website.

An individual spawning event usually takes just 30 seconds: In that brief span, the female grunion has thrashed her way as far onto the beach as she can; drilled herself tail-first into the sand; laid her eggs (sometimes more than 3,000!) as up to eight males curve around her and fertilize them; and then flopped back into the surf. (The young, meanwhile, will hatch in time for the next high tide to wash them into the ocean.)

In April and May, people can only observe the grunion spectacle, but during the other months (including March) those with a fishing license can catch the fish—but only by hand.

We hope you’ll join us at the Sofia Hotel this spring or summer to witness this rare show, certainly among the more unforgettable sights to be had on any beach!

Photo credit: ercwttmn