The spawning season of the California Grunion extends from late February/early March until August or September. The grunions come ashore 3 or 4 nights after the highest tide of a new moon to lay their eggs in the wet sand. This spawning behavior results in a relatively restricted spawning process. Spawning lasts for approximately 1 to 3 hours and can involve a few or thousands of fish.
Female grunions may spawn in multiple runs during one season, coming up the beach as many as six times and laying 1,600 to 3,600 eggs each time. Grunions are incredibly unique in that they spawn by leaving the water and coming up onto the beach at night. The female creates a little nest in the sand with her tail, then buries herself in the sand and deposits the eggs. Males come up and curl around the female and release milt, which drips down the female’s body to the eggs to fertilize them. The males then immediately head back for the beach while the female waits for a wave to come and wash her back into the water.
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