These California Fish Leave the Water to Mate

Chris Higgins
Michael Murrie/ Pepperdine University
Michael Murrie/ Pepperdine University / Michael Murrie/ Pepperdine University

The California grunion is an ocean fish that mates on land—specifically, on the beach at high tide. This presents all kinds of challenges. For one thing, the fish have to survive being out of water during the mating process; they're water breathers but can manage a short trip onto the beach. Then the eggs have to stay hidden and hydrated, avoiding becoming lunch for birds and other predators. Finally, the eggs have to hatch into water, at another super high tide two or four weeks later. It's a lifecycle that's akin to that of sea turtles.

In this beautiful 4K video from Deep Look, we learn about the grunion and their peculiar, challenging sex life. Enjoy:

If video isn't your thing, KQED has an excellent writeup. One thing we learn there is that "grunion" is both the plural and singular term for the fish. And we learn this peculiar fact:

During warm summer nights, crowds emerge to witness the grunion run. Some are there just to watch. Others scramble in the darkness to catch the fish and bring them home for a date with the grill or frying pan.