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Grunion runs expected on Central Coast beaches Saturday through Tuesday nights

Kimberly Walker: Environmental Scientist, Marine Region Fisheries Research and Management Project, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Central Coast residents and visitors should get a chance in the coming days to see a natural phenomenon that is expected to peak along local beaches.

The annual grunion run is predicted to take place Saturday through Tuesday nights, April 4-7. When the conditions are right, thousands of the small fish beach themselves as part of their mating cycle. There will be another run this month, April 18-21, and two more in May.

Doctor Karen Martin is with Pepperdine University and is the executive director of Grunion Greeters. She says this is a sensitive time for the fish, so it's very important to keep your distance. April and May are "Closed Season" for the grunion, so it is illegal to catch any of the fish during this period.

Credit California Department of Fish and Wildlife

"What you want to do is figure out what the high tide is in your place, on your beach, and then that's about the window of time that you want to go out there," said Martin. She says you'll need to be patient, waiting an hour our two to see if the grunion show up.

The professor says runs have already been spotted in Santa Barbara County this spring. She says warmer-than-normal sea temperatures this year could also mean the runs will extend farther north. They've been spotted as far north as Tomales Bay in Marin County, but typically flourish south of Point Conception into Baja California.