Sunday, June 03, 2007

Grunion run

Last night I was all hepped to return to Disko Nekro, but checking the Switchboard I discovered it has closed. Rats... The other options just didn't sound all that appealing so Art Boy and I ended up going down to the beach around midnight for our first grunion run. Apparently this was a "90210" episode, but I never watched that show.

At first I thought it was going to be a bust... the beach was dark and quiet, except for the glaring lights from the pier. But gradually people emerged from the shadows, sitting on blankets behind the lifeguard stations or standing in the shallows with plastic bags. A woman lurched by with an odd assymetrical lump on her back that proved to be a fairly contented toddler. It was like a fair, but dark and wet. We walked toward a clump of seagulls in the wet sand, and before long we had seen our first grunions, flapping horribly toward the water. Quite nifty. It's hard to say whether it was more fun watching for the fish, or watching people chase them with buckets and plastic bags. You apparently need a fishing license to catch them, but it's irresistible - like catching lightning bugs. I picked up a couple to show Art Boy, who was wearing sneakers and staying out of the water, then tossed them back into the shallows. Poor things, they'd had a hard enough day already.

After an hour or so we headed back toward the car, away from the pier, and suddenly came across huge flats of them. A huge wave would come in, all the way up to the high-tide line, then recede a dramatic distance, leaving a wide expanse of silvery fish flopping dryly on the flat sand, their tiny flapping bodies the only sound in the sudden silence. I've never seen anything like it.

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