For kids: The grunion are running
A cooperative effort between two aquariums allows people in France to watch in real time as grunion spawn on southern California beaches.
"Water, water, water," yells Mike Schaadt, director of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in Los Angeles. He scrambles backward in the sand, away from an incoming wave on Cabrillo Beach. "I'll try not to drop you in the water, Stéphane," he says to a man's image on a laptop he's holding by a strap in his left hand. In his right hand, Mr. Schaadt has a wooden pole with an antenna attached to it.Skip to next paragraph
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Next to him, Ed Mastro, exhibits director of the aquarium, aims a small video camera at hundreds of silver fish wriggling on the beach, where they have come to deposit their eggs. The fish are small, about five to six inches long, and their slender bodies shimmer in the moonlight as they ride the surf onto the sand.
It's a grunion run, and almost 300 people have gathered on Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, Calif., to watch this spawning ritual late on a Wednesday night. Stéphane Henard, the man on the laptop, is watching, too, but from a beach thousands of miles away in Boulogne, France. Mr. Henard, director of NAUSICAÄ, the French National Sea Experience Centre, is watching a live webcast of the grunion on his computer.
The gear Messrs Schaadt and Mastro are juggling above the waves is sending the live images to Mr. Henard using Skype, an Internet calling service.
It's 11:30 p.m. in San Pedro, and families are bundled up in jackets, sweat shirts, and blankets, but in Boulogne it's 8:30 in the morning, and Mr. Henard is wearing a short-sleeved shirt under sunny skies.
Fish out of water
Grunion are ordinary-looking fish that live off the coast of southern California and northern Baja California (a state in Mexico). They swim in the sea and use their gills to breathe just as other fish do. So why do crowds of people brave dark, chilly nights to see them? Because unlike other fish, grunion come completely out of water and onto land to reproduce.