Just when we thought the week couldn’t get any fishier, it did! You already know about the angle fish and the wire fish…today was all about real fish.
Wednesdays are our science lab day and our science teacher always goes to great lengths to make things relevant and hands-on for the kids. I knew that she’d gone to a grunion run last weekend…and the grunion were running. If you’re not from coastal southern California, you may not know about grunion. They are small silver fish, about the length of a dollar bill…and they’re pretty special. They are the only fish who come onshore to lay their eggs in the sand and they are found only along our coast from northern Baja to southern Santa Barbara. They spawn from March to June, riding high tides onto the shore to lay their eggs. A couple weeks later, at the next high tide, the eggs are washed back into the ocean, requiring the wave motion to hatch.
I remember grunion runs from my own teenaged days. Since grunion only surf onto the beach late at night, it was the perfect opportunity for groups of preteens to head to the beach, hanging out in the moonlight, trying not to scare off the grunion. (I don’t know who talked the adult drivers into that duty!) If you’re under 16 you don’t need a fishing license to pick up the fish…not that I can ever remember wanting to pick them up! Lucky for us, our science teacher was able to collect some grunion (and eggs) on her grunion run last weekend for our students to study.
Students were able to touch the fish (yeah, they were dead), measure them to determine their age, and gently squeeze them to determine whether they were female (if reddish eggs came out) or male (if a milky liquid came out).
As you can see, they were eager to handle them, some with gloves and some with their bare hands.
We also took the opportunity to present our science teacher with a gift of fish from us. Each student contributed one of their wire fish (Calder inspired) to our collective fish mobile. The best part was that each student figured out their own fish’s balancing point, tied a piece of fishing line to that point, and then small groups hung their fish together. We tied each string of fish from a piece of drift wood that I found on one of my beach walks. The result was stunning! I’m including a photo–although it doesn’t begin to do it justice!
Next week students will string their own individual fish mobiles…and continue their study of grunion. If we’re lucky, we will be able to get some of those grunion eggs to hatch…right in front of our eyes!