Travel & Events

Meet the Grunion

Until two days ago I had never even heard of a Grunion. Thanks to Facebook’s [big brotherish] alerts for everything your friends are doing “near your house” I caught wind of Meet the Grunion– and we decided to check it out. Grunion are a small – approximately 6 inches or so – silvery fish.  What is so unique about Grunion is how they swim up onto the shore to lay their eggs in the sand a few times a year – much like sea turtles but they are fish – late at night along the California and Baja Mexican shorelines. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium hosts a special late night event for families in the aquarium with a hands on Grunion egg hatching, educational film and beachside viewing (and catching!) of Grunion. Did I mention Grunion are a delicacy (think sardines)?

The event started at 8pm and we were there until 1:30am! We didn’t arrive until 9pm and headed to the beach around 11pm.   We did not start seeing Grunion regularly until after midnight. I was surprised how crowded it was (tons of kids!) because I had never even heard of it.  Children under age 16 can catch Grunion freely.  16 and over must have a valid fishing license. We caught a few to look at more closely and released them.

Honestly we had no idea what to expect but our kids have been obsessed with Wild Kratts lately and I knew this was right down their alley.  Needless to say we were underprepared for it in terms of (a) what to bring (b) how to dress (c) realizing how late we’d be there.

My packing list for Grunion catching next year:

  • Waterproof beach blanket
  • Beach chairs
  • Sand toys (1 per child)
  • Bright flashlights/headlamps (1 per person)
  • Camping lantern (1)
  • Large plastic bucket so we can catch-and-release a few grunion
  • Bottled water
  • Flip flops for adults
  • Water shoes for the kids (Crocs, etc.)
  • Extra underwear/pants/warm socks for kiddos to change into after the event
  • Pants that can roll up and stay up (think elasticized bottom)

You can leave all the packed beach items in the car when you arrive, you don’t need anything for the aquarium portion but yourselves.  When its time to head to the beach you will cross the parking lot to get to the beach and you can just grab your things then.  Don’t bring nice bags or wallets or things that won’t fit into a pocket thinking you’ll leave them with your things…its very dark and hard to see/monitor your things so just bring stuff you don’t care much about so you don’t have to worry or try and watch it.

The five dollar admission fee (only a buck for kiddos!) included in/out access to the aquarium – which had lots of great exhibits for the kids to see – and the aforementioned short film, hands on hatching activity and beach access.


The event starts late and runs super late, and that it is definitely not for everyone…but it was totally worth it our kids had a BLAST! When we left at 1:30 probably 50% of people had left already…but there were still plenty there!

See you there next year?! Have you been? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments!




If you this event is down your alley, take a look at this!



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