Volunteers get ready to greet grunion
by ANTHONY GENTILE
Mar 12, 2008 | 2111 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It's springtime again, which means love is in the air. For grunion, love is on the sand.

"They're elusive fish," said Grunion Greeters project director Melissa Studer. "There's something kind of mysterious about them."

Each year during the spring spawning season, thousands of these small fish come ashore to spawn in one of the most rare practices in the animal kingdom.

"It's actually phenomenal," Studer said. "There could be thousands of fish up on the sand all at you're your feet all up and down as far as you can see."

The Grunion Greeters project began in San Diego in 2002, created to protect grunion and their spawning process through the study of human impact on the fish. This year, the organization is collecting data for the first long-term population assessment of the grunion.

The group is seeking volunteers to monitor local beaches and collect scientific information during the runs. For a two-hour period during the late-night runs, volunteers collect scientific data which they then send to the Grunion Greeters' website.

"This is an opportunity to not only experience this wonderful, unique opportunity that's only here in California and nowhere else in the world," Studer said. "But in addition to that, they can participate in a real scientific study."

Interested volunteers must attend a March 25 workshop at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The deadline to apply for the workshop is March 19.

At the workshop, volunteers will learn the biology of the grunion run. The Grunion Greeters has selected to observe the fish April 22 and 23 and May 7, 8, 21 and 22.

These are just a few of the dates during the peak season, which typically runs from April through early June. A complete list of the dates can be found from a link on the Grunion Greeters' website.

"If they're going to plan on being out anyway, we would really hope they would come and participate in our project," Studer said.

Official sites in San Diego County where Grunion Greeters will collect data include Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and La Jolla Shores, along with Imperial Beach, Silver Strand, Coronado, Del Mar, Moonlight Beach and Oceanside.

For grunion run dates, or to become a grunion greeter, visit www.grunion.org.
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